From the sands of the Sahara, I, your dear friend, Roman Payne, send you this announcement: “You are” or “are going to be” one of the seven Muses for my novel in progress: The Saharan Soliloquy.  (I shall refer to you collectively from time to time as, “The Seven Charites” for those of you familiar with “The Three Charites” (or “Graces” of Greek mythology).

Four of you seven belong to the fair sex, and three to the… sex that is… unfair?—so be it!  The first Muse of the unfair people is the fairest man I know (both in giving and generosity, and in stately appearance [as he is a descendant of the poetess Sappho, and there is much evidence that states that he is the reincarnation of Achilles who helped sack the ancient citadel of Troy]).  His name is Pietros Maneos.  He is a distinguished poet and his kleos already reaches to Heaven.

The second of the less than fair sex is my best friend in the world—has been for the last 18 years.  (Let me see, I am 39, about to turn 40, and he and met when I was 21, on Belmont Street in Seattle.  I was in transit, having just spent a while living in New Orleans, at Bourbon Street and Ursulines, where I’d travelled with my twelve-string and the ambition to become the next Leonard Cohen, my hero; a man who happened to die just one week ago (that is, a week before I write this)—although, since he lived to be 82, the tears in my eyes right now are of joy and nostalgia; they are for my Seven Muses.

Mich Poe and I met on Belmont Street where he spent his hours in a depressive state, popping Zoloft and playing Mozart on his upright piano.  I had the good fortune to share a wall with his piano, and he and I got to talking; and we agreed to go down to Pike’s Place Market to each drink “one dry Martini.”

Three days later, we finished our respective five-gallon martinis, in a bar whose bathroom we used to insufflate all the Latin American amphetamines that I’d smuggled back with me across the Mexican border; the pills bulging through a hacky-sack that I had nested in my crotch as a third testicle.

Mich Poe and I were forever friends after those three days, which also cured him for a long time of his depression.  I didn’t know then that in less than one year, the ‘Black Beast’ of depression, would come to sit on the edge of my bed and haunt me there for many years to come;  Mich and I being newly inseparable, I flew out to New York, and he followed behind on an Amtrak train; and while I was living the bourgeois Manhattan-delivery-life, he was screwing two French sisters who visited him at his makeshift home on the rooftop of my apartment house at 284 Mott Street, in SoHo, due north of Chinatown.  Mich would come down to visit me from time to time, smoke his weed, and try to convince me that the short stories I was writing were better than my song compositions.  Mich Poe first planted the idea of me being a novelist, and then my fate was sealed as a novelist when the tip of my picking hand was torn off in the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris two years later.  It is almost exclusively to Mich Poe alone that I speak my “soliloquies,” my chapters, my “Arabesques”; because he is the one person on earth I feel free to say absolutely anything to… no matter which language I speak in, and no matter if my admission reveals une faiblesse[1] of my character—for both he and I revel in sharing defects of our characters, and miswirings and misfirings on our brain organs and other tchotchkes.

Now for the last muse of mine who carries more body-hair and testosterone than pleases my eye, is my best friend east of America; he lives in my city: Marrakech.  He lives in my Riad He is, like me, an artistocrat in Morocco, for his blood is Egyptian and his extebded family commissioned the Pyramids.  This brother of mine, whom I call “Sandman” (for the reason that he is an artist in the medium of colored sand; and also because, like a proper Sandman, whenever he comes to my home, he “brings me a dream.”  I will not dwell too much on Sandman’s virtues, because he plays an important role in the novel that follows and you shall learn plenty of his personality.

I am relieved to begin talking of the beautiful sex:  creatures whose soft arms contain just a dew of newborn hairs, soft as silk; and who resist testosterone injections, as they are already high on Estrogen—a drug that infuses them with poetic madness, dramatic insanity, and the sexiest form of mind-manipulation found among sentient beings.

The first beautiful Muse is she I have known the longest: louis Lunderburg of Sweden, who I first saw by peering at her from between my legs.  Sounds odd? …You see, it was a yoga class and the pose: “chien la tête en bas” I found is an excellent way to find new students. I saw her wonderfully tall body, and her emaciated limbs which were very attractive because they made me curious.

In short, I went to speak with her, yet given the circumstances of our meeting, I disobeyed all of my masculine urges and rules for advancement, and behaved during each of our rendezvous like a perfect gentleman.  And Louise was the perfect lady: sophisticated, cultured, and extremely intelligent.  She eventually moved back to Sweden and I too had left Paris after 15 years living there; but Louise and I remained in contact, and she wrote to me recently, “Now that you the lord of Marrakech, Roman, please message me all about your life there.”

“My dear!” I responded, “I would have to write a whole novel to do my experiences justice.”  Thus the idea for The Saharan Soliloquy was born, thanks                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      to Louise of Sweden.

Actually, of my four feminine muses, only one is not Swedish.  The three others:  Olivia, Charlotte, and Louis, are from the country of Ingmar Bergman—I don’t know if is coincidence or if they put something in the water supply to make young girls grow up to become literary Muses…?

I would especially love it if the UK-based artists Tara Lee,, and Charlotte Eriksson, would attempt some correspondence.  Dear Charlotte: Tara Lee (SoundCloud Profile) is a musician like you are, and like I was (except she has a sexier voice than I do).  She is also a renown actress, she’s been in movies, on the television, she is very accomplished.  Dear Tara: Charlotte Eriksson is musician, singer, and performer like you.  She is also a poet and novelist like me, and novelist, and it was her novel: Empty Roads & Broken Bottles that introduced me to her.  Charlotte’s novel about an 18-year-old wanderess from Sweden vagabonding penniless around the UK—just her guitar case and her sack: a pen and a notebook where she balanced her time-sensitive schedule for a rockstar’s five-year plan with her anti-time, anti-schedule maxims and Zen approaches for living in the moment, was less a novel than it was a dissociative hallucinogen; Charlotte’s book turned my imagination into a frenzy as I wondered whether I were the main character or not;

The short-term sensation was euphoric.  But the lasting effect of her book was to clear my life of the hundreds of empty roads and broken bottles and reawaken me to literature—for, although 95% of my income came then, as it comes now, in the form of royalty checks for my 2013 novel, The Wanderess, I was completely dead to literature and avoided writing at all costs.  It was a dangerous, self-destructive phase partially provoked by modernity’s weak and hopeless “attempt” at producing worthy literature.   (Anyway, thanks to you Seven Muses, I am writing again.)

Charlotte Eriksson now figures as one of the four modern novelists whose books I read with pleasure.

Tara Lee is my musical Muse.  She transports me with her voice and her guitar; and if that weren’t enough, Tara has this unbelievable talent for writing me letters that hypnotize me, and get me to do whatever she wishes, will, or pleases.

The last to be mentioned is probably the most important, Olivia, as she has the ability to supply me with a steady supply of blood, food, and water.  My other six Muses can inspire with intellectual nourishment.  And Tara’s letters, though they don’t come often at all, have this passion in them that keeps me awake all night long.  Yet one can live without intellectual nourishment, and one hates to live without insomniac passion; but one simply cannot live if one’s veins are dried-up of blood, and if one has not a sip of water or a bite of food to eat.  No… I could not… and I would not want to write this next novel without Olivia in my life.



[1] UNE FAIBLESSE :  (Fr) « a weakness. » “…There are times when I use French expressions and words because the English terms are escaping my memory and I don’t wanr want to interrupt his writing flow;

Eudaimonia: “Flourishing” Adults Live Flourishing Lives

A treatise in favor of “mind and body” arts, antidepressant medications, psychotropic drugs, and scientific procedures to alter the human mind and change consciousness; as well as an article in favor of religious practice (of any and all faiths)

By Roman Payne

Why do so many humans invest a considerable portion of their fortunes on, and are so appreciative of, the advancements in neuroscience?  It used to be assumed that the goal of neuroscientific studies were to cure dementia, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, and overall: to cheat death.  

In 2016, however, we no longer kid ourselves privately or publicly.  Today it is as acceptable to tell a stranger or a new acquaintance that you are on antidepressant drug or other psychotropic substances; or that you perform anything from yoga and meditation, to Catholic rituals or Muslim prayer.

Twenty-First Century literature, popular media in Western countries, and articles by learnéd scholars and the intelligentsia tend to agree that a fully-realized human being is someone who is not afraid to die. *

*Epicurus, for example, regarded “the unacknowledged fear of death and punishment as the primary cause of anxiety among human beings”; while Saint Augustine believed that “the fear of death makes a happy life impossible. […] The true, happy life,” Saint Augustine wrote, “requires immortality. The true life is one that is both everlasting and happy.”  Scholars and writers from Plato onward wrote similar doctrines.   Every man and woman may have “once have had” a fear of death.  In fact, “almost all” humans feared death during childhood, and many later on.  But those of us who live more or less: “contemplative lives”; those of us who devote part of each day to such activities as: introspection, self-improvement; philosophy, morality and religious practice, or the intake of pharmacological or natural psychotropic medicines, have either come to the point (and if they have not, they hopefully will, for such is the entire goal of everything from philosophy to magic to religion) where they are and can be considered “A fully-realized,” or a “flourishing,” adult.

A “flourishing” adult lives a “flourishing life”—(more specifically, a “eudaimonic” life).




“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.”

– Roman Payne (The Wanderess)


Very few novels are published with titles like: ‘The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman.’ While writers of coming-of-age novels about young men have a well-worn, established path to follow in the centuries-old genre of the: “Bildungsroman.” This German word, made popular by writers such as Goethe, refers to a “tale of initiation” where a boy, through worldly experience—usually involving solitary travel—becomes a mature man who is successful in the world. Female initiation tales in novels are much more rare, and when we do see them, they almost never involve solitary travel. A girl who has travelled alone has always risked experiencing social taboos—and still does, even in our “enlightened” 21st Century.

But a “girl travelling alone” is the subject and setting of the story in Roman Payne’s new novel, The Wanderess, which was published this month (November 2013) chez Aesthete Press. The Wanderess—Payne coined the word “wanderess” as the feminine form of “wanderer”—tells the story of “Saskia,” who begins the novel as a girl, and finishes as a young woman. Upon the death of her family, she inherits an income which allows her complete independence throughout her teenage years. This income far from consoles her. As she doesn’t need to work, nor aspire to the ambitions her—no longer living—family expects of her, she must ask herself: “what we are alive for?”… Her temporary answer is to search for the best friend she had while at boarding school in London, who now could be anywhere in Europe.

Like any great novel, there is a great romance. It begins when Saskia’s life gets tangled with the life of an adventurer (Saul), whose pursuit of pleasure and fortune gets tangled with the quest of this “Wanderess” for her long-lost friend and her own fortune. From the back cover description: “The two find themselves on a picaresque path that leads them through Spain, France, Italy and beyond; their adventures weaving them deeper and deeper into a web of jealous passion, intrigue, betrayal, and finally, murder.”

Payne admits that writing this, his fifth novel, wasn’t easy: “I already wrote a novel of initiation [Cities and Countries] about a young man’s solitary travels, adventures, and his coming-of-age; but The Wanderess is my first book where the hero is female. I obviously have no life experience in that role, yet the women who have read the advanced copies are unanimously positive. They expressed their delight and say that Saskia is lovable, convincing, and a highly-successful character.


About the Author:   Roman Payne, born January 31, 1977 in Seattle, USA, is an American expatriate literary-fiction novelist. He left America in 1999 and currently lives in Paris. His novels are highly poetic, romantic and literary. They focus on the lives of dreamers and wanderers who travel (usually throughout Europe) looking for the meaning of their lives and of the world. You can meet him on Instagram at: @novelistromanpayne, join him on Facebook at:, or follow his blog at:


Order a copy of “The Wanderess” through Amazon: For more information about “The Wanderess,” visit the novel’s official website at: