The US Consulate has put the burden of helping American novelist captive in Muslim, Morocco on the Catholic Church
A perfect example of how “life imitates art”: The writer Roman Payne first became known internationally with the publication of “The Wanderess” in 2013. The hero of the book, a traveler and adventurer named Saul, has a price on his head in Libya. Incidentally, the author of “The Wanderess” has also just become a “wanted man” in North Africa.
Roman Payne—an American by birth—is being detained indefinitely by the government in Morocco where his US passport has been confiscated by their authorities.
The event happened after a civil dispute in court that was dismissed. Following the dispute, Payne was invited (convoqué) to visit the Préfacture of Police of Marrakech for three different interviews where the police inquired, during the first two, about his activities in the country. The reason for the third interview was unclear to Payne. Some words in Arabic were exchanged between the police and then Payne was escorted on the back of a motorbike by one of the officers to the “Cour d’Appel” (appellate court). There, he was interrogated for 15 minutes in a small room by two men in business attire. Payne did not learn the roles of these officials since he reported having not understood half of what was said in the room (Payne is fluent in French but does not speak Arabic and the conversations in the room were reportedly half in Arabic). Following the interrogation, one of the officials said that Payne’s passport was to be taken so that he could not leave the kingdom; and that “his case would be reviewed” in the coming months. They did not encourage him to seek an attorney.
One would expect the US to immediately intervene on behalf of their citizen held captive abroad, but instead, the US Consulate is refusing support, stating that such intervention should be handled by the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church responded to this insistence with outrage and denied any responsibility whatsoever with helping Payne with his political situation in North Africa. The Colombian-born official of the Catholic Church stationed in Morocco told Payne that “Affairs regarding American-citizens held captive in Muslim countries are politics that concern the American government only, and not the Catholic Church.”
The US did not respond to this statement but proposed that the Moroccan government and Payne should work together to resolve his forced-exile in their country. The single gesture they made to help Payne was to supply him with a list of “Suggested Attorneys in Morocco to assist Americans with foreign affairs.” Payne interviewed all of the Marrakech-based attorneys recommended to him by his consulate and was disappointed by the United States’ apparently haphazard methods of selecting council for Americans abroad, especially in Muslim countries where international relations with the US range from tedious to utterly chaotic. “These lawyers were inept and confused,” he said. One attorney did not even know why he was on their list. “They put me on that list a long time ago. I am not sure why,” he told Payne.
While the US government had washed their hands of the affair, the writer continued his struggle with the Moroccan government. This week he met with Samir Merzouki, a Moroccan official working in foreign relations, who received him cordially and was sympathetic to his situation. Merzouki invited the writer to discuss the matter personally over coffee. He was shocked by the United States’ lack of involvement in a matter such as this. He said that he had great respect for America and was impressed by their tremendous global power, wealth, and influence. “Why they do not use their influence to help their citizens in peril abroad is dumbfounding,” he said.
As the matter stands today, Payne is still without representation or council, and his government is making no further attempts to remedy this. His passport is still in the possession of the Moroccan authorities and he is forbidden to leave the kingdom. He is now living in asylum on the outskirts of Marrakech.
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A message to all Wanderers and Wanderesses from Roman Payne:
I am very excited to say the this summer’s Wanderess Tour is on! Our luxury sailboat will be leaving from the city of Split, Croatia, at the end of August; and we will be at sea for seven days.
This will be an intimate tour limited to six participants only! (In addition to the six participants, there will be myself, as well as a skipper aboard.)
The Wanderess Tour will be a great adventure. It includes daily intensive writing workshops where I will help you start a new novel or finish the one you are working on. We will see some wonderful places that figure in my novel, The Wanderess, (such as Malta and Italy).
On of our participants will be celebrating her birthday during the tour, so we will through a great party for her.
The cuisine will be of the highest quality at the lowest possible price. Each day we will dock in the harbor of a different city or village where we can buy the freshest local ingredients: fish, vegetables, spices like saffron, truffles, and all kinds of delicious wines, red, rosé, white and sparkling. As you know, these farmers’ markets are very inexpensive and the food sold is as authentic to the locale and as fresh as can be. After shopping, our group will set sail again and all participants will be invited to cook their purchases to their hearts’ delight in the boats gourmet kitchen.
My goal with this tour is four-fold:
- Share with you the world of The Wanderess and the secrets of how and why I wrote the book.
- Give you an amazing Mediterranean sailing experience (including kite surfing and swimming), a vacation you will never forget.
- Introduce you to new cultures as we explore the port cities of different countries.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: I vow in these seven days to make you a better writer. Not just a better writer, but an accomplished writer, with goals to work towards and the courage, discipline, and skill to do it.
Total cost for the tour is between 1,000 and 1,300 euros for seven nights, seven days.
My most famous quote talks about a woman who is a “Wanderess” :
“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.”
The composition of the quote was simple. I’d decided to write a book about a young woman whom I called the “wanderess.” I named her “Saskia” and imagined her life and her position in life and the kind of character and personality that her unique position would give her. She is a European who grew up in various countries, being transplanted by circumstances—so travel comes naturally to her. She has no more family left, despite the fact that she is very young; and she has no real friends, so there is no reason for her to settle in one city or country rather than any another. She earns a kind of pension, which—although she is not rich by any means—allows her to eat and live without being rooted to one spot, to one geographical location, where she would have to work a regular job.
I tried to imagine the life of such a person—which was easy, since in my line of work, I also am not dependent on one geographical location. I tried to imagine someone with, quote, “no reason to be anywhere.” …No family to keep her in one country, no friends to keep her in another; she has no real entrepreneurial ambitions so she has no reason to choose a destination based on a particular university she wishes to attend or a field of expertise that a city offers. Thus, she is free (or condemned) to drift and drift, while searching for reason. What separates her from members of the idle rich class who have no reason to remain fixed in any one spot is that, as mentioned, she has no business interests tied into any location; and she doesn’t have idle companions that the rich so often do, whose caprices guide their friends to follow them from city to city, from festival to casino to tournament. Saskia is, as I write elsewhere in the book, “not an adventuress, but a wanderess.” It is in that phrase that we understand why she “has no reason to be anywhere.”
And so, while writing a 334-page book about her, I had many opportunities to describe her character. Many of my descriptions didn’t particularly stand-out for any reason. Yet for some reason, these 24 words I wrote about her (in the quote above) profoundly resonated with people around the world and became a part of popular culture when everyone from pop musicians to clothing and product designers adopted the words to make the message their own.
— Roman Payne, May 2017 (on writing The Wanderess)
New Wanderess Literary Tour & Writers’ Workshop Launches in the Mediterranean
Head to Croatia this summer to live the life of a wanderer or wanderess and create your own story in the process. For a few select weeks this summer, a maximum of six passengers (per week) are invited to spend seven days with Roman Payne, the author of “The Wanderess,” exploring the Adriatic Sea aboard the luxury sailing yacht, “Gold One.”
Fans of “The Wanderess” will enjoy literary discussions with its author, while writers of all levels will receive expert guidance to help them advance on their own manuscripts. “It is a sailing adventure meant to inspire and set your creativity free,” says Payne, “and by the end of the week, I will make sure you are on your way towards finishing your novel!”
His novel, “The Wanderess,” is highly-praised for its exceptional literary quality. It has influenced everything from pop music in America, to film in England, to Bollywood and Fashion Week in India. Payne’s poetry is considered first-class and has inspired thousands (people around the world even tattoo his words on their bodies!)
The Roman Payne literary cruise dispatches from the Croatian city of Split, and offers some of the best sailing in the world (Croatia is home to over 1,000 islands!). Passengers also visit Italy on the tour.
For those who love wining and dining in addition to literature, Wanderess Tours offer something doubly-delightful: the best quality natural foods and exotic delicacies (truffles, saffron, gourmet cheeses), together with the inexpensive cost of buying direct from the farmer at the village market. Each port city that you stop at, the Gold One drops anchor and you’ll have the pleasure of exploring city sights, shopping, and buying the freshest ingredients for your daily meals which you may prepare yourself on board in the yacht’s gourmet kitchen. If spectacular wines help your creativity and inspiration, you are in luck: Croatia, the birthplace of Zinfandel, has some of the best wines on earth. Sample some aboard to add festivity to your literary adventure.
Other activities besides the literary discussions and writers’ workshops include sunbathing, swimming, and kite surfing. There are double cabins available. The cost is 1,300€ per person. To book a week’s Wanderess Tour, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tours are organized in part by Travel Writers’ Network.