THE WINE OF A WOMAN (by Roman Payne)


She came to my bed
and begged me with sighs
not to tempt her towards passion
nor actions unwise.


I told her I’d spare her
and kissed her closed eyes,
then unbraided her body
of its clothing disguise


While our bodies were nude
bathed in candlelight fine
I devoured her mouth,
tender lips divine;
and I drank through her thighs
her feminine wine.


Ô, the wine of a woman
from heaven is sent,
more perfect than all
that a man can invent.


– Roman Payne (October, 2016, Marrakech)

Rough Draft of My New Novel: THE SAHARAN SOLILOQUY (or) THE ARABESQUE OF MOROCCO (by Roman Payne)

“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”

— Roman Payne




 Ô, Muse of Morocco, sing me my soliloquy so that I may tell my tale of your land.  For never did I experience a story so hallucinatory as when I embarked upon your sand.

Morocco is a “polytropolous” land, (completely topsy-turvy); it is a land where Reality is flipped upside down and painted multi-colored—living here is like being constantly high on a wonderfully happy hallucinogenic drug.  Due to the fact that I have been a wanderer—a stranger tossed among the continents—for the last twenty years, (I first began traveling at the age of nineteen and I expatriated to France when I was just a lad of twenty-one—now I am thirty-nine—from this, I have learned an important skill: how to maintain incredible strength and feed and grow the power to overcome all of life’s obstacles—no matter how drastic they are.  Twenty years of traveling has taught me to survive all culture shock, fits of panic, agoraphobia, and other disorders that originate from fear.  Yet this only applied to the most sophisticated cities in the world.  Coming from Paris—arguably the most elegant and polite metropolis on our planet—to a bustling city in Africa where the main square near my riad





Wanderess Fans and their Tattoos…

I am thankful for all of the photos I have received from women around the world who tattoo words from my books and poems, or simply inscribe the title of my novel The Wanderess anywhere from their breasts to their dimples of Venus; or on their wrists,  ankles, and toes.

A special ‘Thank You’ to this young woman (below) who sent me this testimony of her body’s permanent appreciation of my art. I only hope that she doesn’t grow to hate me before her skin withers from age and dies.


…In any case, by tattooing my words on your delicate self, I am obliged to love you for your entire life, you realize… to answer all of your letters (though otherwise I almost never answer readers’ letters [simply because I am lazy]). Yet now, I am obliged, you understand, to treat you always with profound kindness, replying with courtesy to every message you send me. For I would never forgive myself if a woman started to hate one of her body parts because she found out just how selfish, idle and monstrous the author of her tattoo is in real life. So for you, My Loves, I will offer my eternal affection, and I will pretend that I am a good person – God forbid you should learn that my soul is dirty and I am only “slightly” better than the Devil.

Yours Forever,

Roman Payne

Morocco, 2016






“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:


LITERATURE: “To Travel” vs. “To Wander” ( Interviews Author, Roman Payne)

Republished from

“To wander is to be alive.”

– Roman Payne

The wanderer stops to take respite as he roams about.

The wanderer stops to take respite as he roams about.

“Wandering is the major theme of both my life and my work – and they are the same thing.”

– Roman Payne

On April 10th, 2015, William Sheller at asks Roman Payne:

“Mr. Payne, your new novel, The Love of Europa, was just partially published – that is, the first 13 chapters were released to give readers a taste for what to expect.  Do you intend to serial publish more of the book?  Or will the next release be the entire book?”

Roman Payne:  It will be the entire book, it should come out this summer.  I have to finish writing it first, though.

William Sheller:  It is an amazing beginning, I have to say.  Personally, I enjoyed reading those first 70 or so pages more than anything you’ve ever written.  I like it even more than The Wanderess, which some people believed would be your masterpiece, and perhaps your final work.

RP:  Did they think I would drop dead?  Or just take up watercolours instead of writing? …No, but I see what you mean.  I hesitated to start a book after writing The Wanderess because I was worried that I couldn’t outdo The Wanderess.  I thought that was the best writing I was capable of, and I didn’t want to make a slipshod performance to follow it.

WS:  Well The Love of Europa is anything but slipshod!  It is a beautiful story, beautifully written, and it will find a large market because it speaks primarily to “young women who love to travel.”  And there are a lot of young women who love to travel, and those who love to travel tend to have the time to read a lot.

RP:  Yes, well like all my books, it is written for the wanderers of the world.

WS:  That is something I wanted to ask you… your thoughts on travel vs. wandering.  May I print the first paragraph of The Love of Europa so people reading this can see what I’m talking about?

RP:  Be my guest.

WS:  You wrote: “She called herself Europa, and wandered the world from girlhood till death. She lived every kind of life and dreamt every kind of dream. She was wild in her wandering, a drop of free water. She believed only in her life and in her dreams. She called herself Europa, and her god was Beauty.”

RP:  Do you like it?

WS:  It’s excellent.  You are like a classical composer who reuses bits of his own melodies in multiple symphonies.  You take one of your quotes – one of your “wanderess” quotes, for example – and spin it into a new phrase, into a new literary quote, into a new poem.

RP:  If you hit on something you like, why not create variations on that theme?

WS:  Exactly.  But my question here is about your use of the word “wandering” and “wandered” (“she was wild in her wandering”)… doesn’t wandering mean, sort of, walking about aimlessly!

RP:  Not at all!   (He punches the table)

RP:  You know, “wandering” is the major theme of both my life and my work – and they are the same thing.  Let me find something in my manuscript for The Love of Europa that I wrote to explain this.  Somebody else asked me what “wandering” really means, and why I don’t use the word “travelling” instead.  And I’ll tell you why.  I wrote this to explain to that person why I use “wander” and not travel”; and then I thought, you know, a lot of people reading The Love of Europa are going to have this question, so I decided to include this paragraph in the book:

The word “travel” comes from the Old French word “travail” (or “travailler”), which means “to work, to labor; a suffering or painful effort, an arduous journey, a tormenting experience.” (“Travel,” thus, is “a painful and laborious journey”). Whereas “to wander” comes from the West Germanic “wandran,” which simply means “to roam about.” There is no labor or torment in “wandering.” There is only “roaming.” Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both at one with and separate from the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as “learning to survive” is fundamental to the body. These discoveries, Dear Reader, are essential to realizing what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive.

The "eternal wanderer," Roman Payne, beneath the Parisian sky at the Jardin du Luxembourg (2014) | Photograph © Marta Szczesniak

The “eternal wanderer,” Roman Payne, beneath the Parisian sky at the Jardin du Luxembourg (2014) | Photograph © Marta Szczesniak

Get the first 13 chapters of The Love of Europa for Kindle right now… click here!

“A girl without braids is like a city without bridges.”



“A girl without braids
is like a city without bridges.”

― Roman Payne, The Wanderess

“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.”


“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.”

― Roman Payne, The Wanderess

Literary Quote by Roman Payne: Woman at the Window


“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

Literary Quote for Spring: She Wakes in a Puddle of Sunlight


“She wakes in a puddle of sunlight.
Her hands asleep beside her.
Her hair draped on the lawn
like a mantle of cloth.”
– Roman Payne

Pour La France !! (“For France!”)


Cliquez sur l'image pour l'agrandir.

Cliquez sur l’image pour l’agrandir.

Incipit de la version française du roman Wanderess, (bientôt disponible en France !) (infos, email :



Wanderess Quote, Version N°12

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 Wanderess” V°12.  Click to Enlarge)

From the novel, The Wanderess, by Roman Payne.

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


Has Amazon Grown too Powerful? Amazon vs. Roman Payne

Click to Enlarge the world’s largest bookstore and literature’s most powerful decision-maker.  They seem to have now assumed the position of the Minister of Cultural and Judge of Public Decency… but is this business powerhouse capable of justice in the domain of Art & Culture?  It appears so, as they have just banished a work of literature from their Kindle Store with the accusation that it is “Erotica”

France-based, American literary-fiction author, Roman Payne, and his publisher, Aesthete Press, have been tried, judged, and convicted in the past few days, (without defense permissible), of publishing a novel of “Erotica.”  The content of the novel, which critics agree is nowhere near erotic, is not the question.  The question is the cover of the book, which displays two identical naked representations (sculptures) of a nude woman.  This cover is hardly racy compared to other books that Amazon categorizes as “Classics,” “Literary-Fiction” or others of a more respected nature.

Amazon’s Kindle team has already condemned his novel, The Wanderess, to the category of “Erotica.” And they refuse to budge.  Up until today, the book was available on Kindle with an Adult-Warning” attached.  Now, the Kindle book is no longer for sale anywhere on Amazon.

Payne who comments, “I have absolutely nothing against Erotica, although it is not my art.  I am a literary-fiction author, pure and simple,” declares that he refuses to be listed on Amazon or anywhere else under the heading “Erotica.”  Amazon responded to this refusal in writing to tell him that he has no choice:  “The  cover image of your book contains mature content, and therefore won’t surface in our general product search,” they wrote, and added that if he couldn’t accept the label of “Erotica,” he would be forced to be removed from Amazon’s Kindle Store. 

            “The damage has already been done,” wrote Payne before today’s removal, “My publisher and I have been refused on multiple occasions, (and I have written proof of this), to have my novel publicized by press agencies on the basis that these agencies ‘will not publicize erotica.’  These missed opportunities have cost me a lot. […] What I expect for the near-future?  I will refuse the label of “Erotica” and my book will be removed from Kindle, and possibly from Amazon USA altogether.”

Just what is acceptable in 2014 to show to citizens of all ages when it comes to art?  Of course there are modern modes of flagrant expression that should be reserved for adults.  But what about the classics?  Marble sculptures of nudes, for example… for one, they are not photographic nudes, but only artistic representations; secondly, they have to be shown to all people in real life (for the very reason that these sculptures are in public gardens, public squares, public museums)?  Why are these same sculptures not allowed on the covers of mainstream books?

Novelist, Roman Payne—who emigrated to France in 1999 and has ever since lived in Paris—had high hopes for The Wanderess (his fifth novel), which he considers “his first great masterpiece.”  The Wanderess is a poetic, literary-fiction love-story about “two lost souls” vagabonding in Europe where they search for a mysterious “fortune” as well as things they’ve lost in this world.  Payne, who before finding success as a novelist worked as a graphic designer, used a marble statue of a nude woman as a model to create an extremely compelling book cover.  The finished cover doesn’t show frontal nudity, and it doesn’t show full backside nudity (the buttocks are concealed and an arm conceals the breasts).

“Amazon’s decision not only surprised me, it blew my mind completely!” said Payne, “I’ve always tried to ignore the puritanical label people put on America.  In France, where I live, nudity showing the naked breasts and backsides of women are used in the posters that advertise health & beauty products on the windows of pharmacies and perfumeries.  And this is real-body nudity—not representations such as sculpture.  Yes, I was and am mystified by Amazon’s reaction.”  A curious coincidence is that Payne and Amazon have a reason to share similar values: they are both from Seattle.

Payne and his publisher are asking for readers opinion of this.  Please log-in to the active discussion at  Payne is also happy to provide interviews on the subject.  To request an interview, please email

“In my errant life I roamed…” (literary quote from “The Wanderess”)

Roman Payne Literary Quote Travel

“In my errant life I roamed

To learn the secrets of women and men,

Of gods and dreams.

I’ve known all the countries of our world,

I’ve lived a thousand lives:

Many lives I lived in love,

other lives I squandered.

For in my life I never traveled,

All I did was wander.”

– Roman Payne, from The Wanderess

“ODE TO SPRING” (from “Rooftop Soliloquy”)

Roman Payne Quote Image Ode to Spring

“Did I live the spring I’d sought?

It’s true in joy, I walked along,

took part in dance,

and sang the song.

and never tried to bind an hour

to my borrowed garden bower;

nor did I once entreat

a day to slumber at my feet.

Yet days aren’t lulled by lyric song,

like morning birds they pass along,

o’er crests of trees, to none belong;

o’er crests of trees of drying dew,

their larking flight, my hands, eschew

Thus I’ll say it once and true…

From all that I saw,

and everywhere I wandered,

I learned that time cannot be spent,

It only can be squandered.”

― Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy

“When she was a child, my love carried a roadmap…” (Literary Quote by Roman Payne)

“When she was a child, my love carried a road-map in her hand the way other girls carried handkerchiefs.” ― Roman Payne

“When she was a child,

my love carried a road-map in her hand

the way other girls carried handkerchiefs.”

― Roman Payne

@RomanPayne | | | |

“I’ve decided the act that cannot wait, is the important will to create.” – A Literary Quote by Roman Payne

“I’ve decided the act that cannot wait

is the important will to create.

But, ah, if my belly is ignored

the pantry door I shall implore.

But I’ve been known to reach the bed

ideas still famished in my head.”

                              ― Roman Payne / @RomanPayne / /

Photo of Roman Payne correcting the manuscript of The Wanderess in the summer of 2014

“Last summer in Paris, working on the very last corrections on the manuscript for”The Wanderess” (chez William Friggione, 4 rue du Dragon, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés).”      – Roman Payne, February 2014        

Roman Payne correcting the manuscript for The Wanderess in Paris, summer of 2014

Copyright © 2013, 2014,

“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water.

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

“If You Close the Door” Played on the Classical Guitar and Sung by Roman Payne and Sarah, in 2003 in Hawaii.

“If You Close the Door” (Classical Guitar, Sung by Roman Payne and Sarah) Click to Listen on SoundCloud.

I played and recorded this song with my girlfriend at the time… we were living in Hawaii – in Honoka’a on the Big Island.  That was before I returned to Paris in 2004.  That was before everything….

Happy New Year 2014, Your Rooftop is Free !

Last day to download my old “roman libertin” Rooftop Soliloquy for Free (Kindle version rated #2 Bestseller, category Urban Literature”)… also at the same time, pick up “The Wanderess” for Kindle for $3 (Tomorrow it goes back to 10!)…

Rooftop for Free:
eWanderess for $3:

#Bestseller in the Kindle Store, Category "Urban Fiction" Jan 1st 2014

#Bestseller in the Kindle Store, Category “Urban Fiction” Jan 1st 2014

A gift for the ☆ Most Creative ☆ book review… Free Chanel perfume (pour homme ou pour femme).

Chanel and The WanderessA gift of Chanel Perfume (Coco for women, Coco Mademoiselle, or Allure for Men) for the ☆ Most Creative ☆ book review of The Wanderess.

Note: Just for this contest, my publisher lowered the price of my novel (e-format) to only $2.99 (American dollars), so it won’t cost much to play.

How to play:

1. Check out my book.
2. write a unique & creative review.
3. post on Amazon, or also on Goodreads, CulturalBook, or your Blog.
4. Email a link to your critique to ☆
5. I will soon contact you buy email. If you don’t win the perfume, but your review is still really creative, you will receive a hand-written postcard from me praising your writing talent.
Here is the link to my novel:

Have fun !!  

– Roman

A Problem of Aesthetics: Must we kill the ‘Perfect’ Hero in literature? An explanation of what is preventing me from finishing my fifth novel…

Lord Byron in Heroic Dress

ABOVE: Lord Byron, the heroic literary figure. Could he have received public approval if it weren’t for his club-foot and rumors of his unhappiness?

If my last novel [Rooftop Soliloquy] was about a heroic man who lived the perfect life in a perfect world, and who met no tragic fate at the end but concluded his adventures in happiness—embracing a woman in the moonlight, he delivers a final soliloquy to praise his poetic adventures and the beauty of life—it was because my own life then was so good, my own adventures were so poetic.  It was the climax of my life, there was no reason for a tragic flaw.

Arthur Rimbaud

ABOVE: Rimbaud received the gifts of The Muses at a very young age. He was cocky and self-assured. But without his adventures in Africa that cut his life short, would he have received the approval of the reading public?

I was quite young then (thirty-two), and the city of Paris was my kingdom.  By this time, Paris had opened itself to me like a blossoming flower inviting me to feast of its nectar; the people of Paris were all on my side.  I saw no downfall in sight for myself.  Every street I turned down, in every neighborhood, I would hear: “Ça va, Roman?  C’est bien de te voir !”  Every sip of air in those years was like a quaff of Helen’s nepenthe—that Homeric drug to enliven, invigorate, to forget all sorrows of the past and see beauty even in moments of wretchedness.

So, in the temporary bliss of it all, I eliminated those most common devices of literary narrative: that of the heroic person in a wretched or dangerous world who overcomes through strength and cunning; and that of the flawed person in the good world, who because of his flaw eventually dies or ends up like the biblical Job, on the dung-heap.  Other writers in my position would have made “Rooftop” a comedy, ending in marriage and laughter.  But my strength is poetic prose.  I am a descendant of Racine, not Molière.  The comic hero is a buffoon.  I wanted to create a Heracles with a harem, and that’s what I did.  Some people enjoyed this book immensely.  One critic said, while he praised the beauty of the prose, which made it worth reading; he found the main character to lack depth.  Is this because I was not yet thirty years-old when I began writing it?  I think no… I think it was because I gave the character no real flaws, I didn’t kill him at the end, and all of this was on purpose!


Few readers enjoy reading about “the positively good man”—the hero who possesses beauty, good fortune, luck, and an overall enviable life.  Some writers who see the world as beautiful, and human-potential as infinite, have tried to express their awe in the presence of life, but they fail to move the reader—unless they give the glory to Nature or to God.  Critics approved of Walt Whitmans “Song of Myself,” but they believed he was glorifying either God or “the multitudes” (the “common people”).  Whitman was glorifying himself.

To express an awe for what you are… not what Nature or God is, but you…  A writer who can pull this off deserves a Nobel Prize.   But, then again, he or she who can smash cockroaches with a shoe in a pitch-black room deserves a Nobel Prize.

The old method, one that Charles Dickens used, was to make the protagonist become heroic through overcoming adversity.  Yet what about the writer who doesn’t take Voltaire’s expression of Candide as a joke?  “All is perfect in a perfect world!”  The heroic soul says, “There is no adversity to overcome!” …at least our hero is above all such adversity (Heracles with no “labours” to undertake).  Only poetry can make such a book interesting.  Without poetic narrative, any pastoral adventures of Heracles as he drinks red wine from the belly button of a naked nymph, this is rather boring.

With my novels, I have been attempting my own aesthetic style that I think is new in literature.  At times, I feel I succeed.  Other times, I fear that I am failing miserably.  Here is more on that…

Dostoevsky’s  notes reveal his intense aesthetic conflict over how to write his novel, The Idiot, where he wanted to create “the positively good man,” (“Christ-like,” as he wrote).  Yet Dostoevsky knew that in novels, perfect people are uninteresting.  One tires of their beauty and success.  Dostoevsky pulled-out his hair over the problem of how to make Prince Myshkin likable and still perfect.  His solution was to give his hero epilepsy, as well as a naïve simplicity that inspires the other characters to mock him.

In Homer, we have Odysseus who is more like a god than a man.  But we excite ourselves during his story because he has imperfections and adversity: he hasn’t seen his wife in 20 years.  He doesn’t know his own son.  And we don’t know if his losing of all his voyage companions is the fault of the gods, or his own fault (after all, the only account we have of Odysseus’ companions dying, is the account he gives to Alcinoos in the first-person.  The only time that “monsters” appear and eat Odysseus’ friends, is the time when Odysseus tells the story himself—and Odysseus is one of literature’s greatest liars!).   Odysseus has a duplicity that makes him interesting, and the reader doesn’t know if he truly god-like.  His humanness is apparent in the end when he isn’t satisfied with domestic life (his reunion with Penelope) enough to stay in Ithica.  His wanderer’s nature comes back like an illness, forcing him to take him back out to sea.  Poor wanderer!

Knut Hamsun is an exquisite example of the innovative writer.  Both in Hunger and in Mysteries—his two best novels—he creates “the brilliant hero.”  In Hunger, his hero is a genius writer who has no trouble telling the reader he is a genius.  The only problem is that the hero can’t afford to feed or lodge himself.  In Mysteries, the hero Nagel is also a brilliant man, and has the added quality of being independently rich.  His faults lie in depression, suicidal nature, and his inability to obtain the woman of his dreams.

Pietros Maneos succeeded with his character of Gabriele (The Italian Pleasures…) despite the fact that Maneos and I share a literary aesthetic vision.  Gabriele is handsome, with the physique of a Greek hero, he lives the enviable life of the aristocrat on the Grand Tour.  He enjoys women as he fancies them.  He is a Romantic and lives like one, but he doesn’t seem to share the flaws of past Byronic heroes.  Where Maneos succeeds is, for one, the age of his hero. Gabriele is in his early twenties.  Readers kindly excuse the lofty self-importance of youths, knowing that later: “the poor boy will come to realize what the world is really like, and his ego will suffer for it.”  World-weary disillusionment isn’t a stranger to Gabriele, who finds himself in a Europe that is not the Europe of antiquity, but a crude fossil, inhospitable to his genius.

In “Rooftop,” I wanted to describe our world as a perfect, hospitable setting for my Romantic hero.  The need for money, and other crude topics are left-out.  Beauty is everywhere, and nothing is as beautiful as my hero and his muses.  While writing “Rooftop,” it was easy to believe myself in such a world.  Today, after a few personal tragedies, and after losing the microcosm of beauty that was Paris, I see with more and more clarity the crudeness of our world.  Thus, I am more and more concerned with the future of my aesthetic style.  It is for this reason, (as well as others that I will go into another time), that I haven’t yet finished my novel The Wanderess, which has been in progress for almost four years (four years of literary uncertainty!)  If I had lower-standards for this book, I could have finished it after the first year; it would have read like a run-of-the-mill French libertine novel of the 18th Century (which is not at all bad).  But I want The Wanderess to take heroism to a new level, and still move the reader to tears of joy.  I will certainly fail with the former, as these days, heroism is not my primary literary concern.  I am an adventurer who has seen the dark-side of the adventurer’s life and it would be a lie if I didn’t share this with the reader.  As for the tears, I can always save my art through the poetry of my prose.

While I’ve lost confidence in many of my powers as of late, I retain the power of poetry and a knack for creating plots.  The great pre-occupation for me is touching the emotions of the readers: for it is the tears of the reader that water the fruit in the gardens of the gods.  Persephone ate of one such fruit, and because of this she can only feel the warm flesh of the sun for part of the year, the other part she is thrown into darkness.  Perhaps the literary hero and the literary figure (the writer), must obey such condemnation.  The literary hero must die or experience wretchedness to gain the empathy of the reader.  Recall that headaches are born of orgies with wine.  Remember the sores of syphilis are born of nights of love.  With Zeus as my witness, I will perfect a new genre of literary heroism, or die trying.  In the meantime, while I tinker in my workshop, I praise my readers and fellow novelists for forgiving my excesses and shortcomings.

Your Humble Servant,

Roman Payne, Son of Helen of Troy

My Self-Explanation…

I am a novelist currently wandering in Spain.  I am writing my fifth novel, which will be published in six months.  It is about a girl who wanders as I do.  She passes through many countries and sleeps in strange beds as I do.  Her life is strange as mine is.  Our lives are poetic and absurd.  I enjoy looking at my life as an object of curiosity.   When I drink red wine and wander the European streets at night, and the lantern light glows orange on the stones, I feel as though I am character in a Roman Payne novel.  Although my characters are happy for the most-part, they are also sensual and suffer from excessive dreams.


I am the last male in my line with the name Payne.  If I were lucky enough to have a wife, instead of remaining solitary as we novelists are so often condemned to remain, I would devote myself to creating children and would consider their creation as worthwhile as writing a novel.  Yet I would prefer to have all daughters, (save for one male heir to carry on my name), since as far back as I can remember, girls have delighted me beyond belief.  When I was six years old, I had the honor of attending a Catholic school where my class was composed of twenty-eight girls, and four boys including myself.  It was no doubt then that I learned all of the qualities and habits that have stuck with me to this day, namely: sensuality.


I am fond of dishes with saffron.  I can devour the spiciest chili peppers in any marketplace; and the hotter they are, the more pleasing.  Honey is excellent only when it is white in color, and very opaque.  I appreciate wild mushrooms of all varieties, especially when they are sautéed in a fine oil.   I have a friend who is a great pianist.  He is from Certaldo in Italy, the birthplace of Boccaccio.  His family produces the best olive oil that I have ever tasted.  When it comes to cheese, I like a strong Roquefort most of all.


The only place I call home is Paris.  It is a city where I lived for eleven great years.  I first moved there in 1999 when the currency was the franc and it was very cheap.  I moved back again in 2004 when the currency had become the euro and it was very expensive.    To be sensual and full of dreams are both dangerous qualities to possess if living in an expensive city.  I left Paris one year ago and went to try to live in Marrakech, but just as Paris was a perfect match for my personality, Morocco was ill-suited to it.  I left Morocco with my ambitions in turmoil, and have since been wandering… from Madrid to Athens, Greece; to Seattle (the city of my birth), back to Athens, to Sofia, Bulgaria; and now to Valencia, where I sit currently, writing this self-explanation, seated on a leather bench in the suite of the Caro Hotel, where outside the rain pounds on the tiled rooftops and on the belfries of the Cathedral in the Plaça de la Reina.


I will leave Valencia soon and I do not know where I will go.  I never know where I will go.  That is the sorrow of living the life of your dreams: that I am a novelist, I guide my occupation, it does not guide me.   And this world is an endless terrain of changing shapes and hillsides, all similar shades of green they go off this-way, come from that-way; and not knowing why or to where, how can a man know where to lead himself?  Is it not senseless to wander?  Is it not absurd to stand still?                       


–  ROMAN PAYNE  (Valencia, Spain; November 12, 2012)


“My books primarily focus on the lives of heroic individuals who strive to live the poetic life.”


Roman Payne is the author of five books: Crepuscule, Cities & Countries, The Basement Trains, Hope & Despair, and Rooftop Soliloquy.  He is published by ModeRoom Press.  His next novel: The Wanderess will be published in 2013 chez Aesthete Press.