Hope & Despair – A Novel

March 13th, 2018

Hope & Despair – A Novel

By Roman Payne

A feast of sensuality, Payne’s third epic novel narrates the story of the beautiful young Nadja, and her brooding lover Nikolai, as the two come of age in a springtime garden. When their world of earthly delights fades with the dying season, the two are exiled from their pastoral romance into a fiery world of seedy urban haunts, intoxicated dreams and electric lights. When tragedy heralds the birth of a new day, light is shed on everyone’s fate as the greatest adventure of all begins: a cunning swindler sets off on a heroic voyage to find the love of his youth. Through tears of hope and despair, the landscape of this novel unfolds before us in a vast panorama of poetic prose, delighting the senses and the imagination about what is possible, what is beautiful, and what is maddening about this world. “”Charged with passion, these pages sing to us their erotic melancholy; ‘Hope and Despair’ is both loving and frightening, a pleasure to read once and again!””


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Author of “The Wanderess” Held Captive in Morocco

January 8th, 2018

The author of “The Wanderess,” Roman Payne is currently forced in exile in Morocco.

Traveling in Morocco in 2017, you could lose your handbag, get swindled, or you could be held captive by a Muslim government.

A lot can happen to travelers; especially in Africa today.  It seems that even the US State Department cannot help an American citizen held captive without a trial date in an African country.


Novelist Roman Payne (born in 1977 in Seattle) coined the famous word “wanderess” and is the author of the world-renowned novel, “The Wanderess.”  He is also living in forced-exile in Muslim Morocco, where the government has seized his passport and forbids him to leave the country.


His passport was confiscated in July 2017 after a civil process when the government wanted to “learn more about his life in Morocco.”  They gave Payne some trumped-up charges and cited some of his writing in the charges.  They gave the date for a trial to Payne for October 4th.  But on October 4th, the judge refused to see Payne.  Instead, he was interrogating “people involved with the affair.” A new trial date was set for December 13th.  But on December 13th, the judge once more refused to see Payne.  The judge had another “witness” for the case to interrogate.  But this time, Payne was not told how much longer his passport would be held or when a third “trial” would be scheduled.  Today he is, once again, condemned to wander the streets of Morocco without papers, without knowing if he will ever be allowed to leave.


The US Consulate has an agreement with all other countries:  It doesn’t interfere with the foreign government’s right to execute their laws on their terms, even with American citizens.  European countries have the same agreement.  All Europeans and Americans, therefore, are at risk while travelling.  As a foreigner, you could be taken, held for ransom, or have your American or European passport confiscated for no reason.  The consulates in most Western countries try to help their citizens.  US Diplomates and US Embassy emissaries regularly travel to Marrakech (where Payne lives) from their headquarters in Casablanca and Rabat.  They come to “see to his well-being” but not to discuss politics.


“Almost all of the phone numbers in my telephone at the moment,” Payne laughs, “are either members of the US Consulate, the State Department, diplomats; or they are Moroccan lawyers or Moroccan policemen.  I even have a number for the Moroccan Secret Service (“DST”) in my phone.”


In spite of America’s hands-off approach where it concerns interfering with the Moroccan government, the consulate did reach out and call Payne’s judge on two occasions, but the conversations led to nothing.


The next course of action in Payne’s case is to involve the US Congress, who holds diplomatic power and a willingness the Embassy does not possess.  The US State department told Payne’s manager: “Working with the congress would be the most effective course of action to take in the case of Roman Payne.”


All of this terror could happen to you or your family as well if you travel to exotic locations such as Africa, South-East Asia, etc.  One thing to check up on before you go is whether or not your destination has an “extradition treaty” with your country or not.  Payne, for example, could have been easily extradited to the US for his trial, except the United States and Morocco do not have an extradition treaty.  “The best precaution you can take,” said Payne, “is not to do any business in an exotic country unless you want to risk being tortured or killed.  There is no other sure precaution except to ‘not travel.’  But how can one be happy without travelling?!”


One curious fact about Roman Payne:  In his novel, “The Wanderess,” the hero (Saul) has a price on his head in the African city of Tripoli.  Ironically, four years after the publication of this 2013 book, its author also became “wanted” in North Africa.


Subscribe to Payne’s blog: https://novelistromanpayne.wordpress.com/

Follow Payne’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/novelistromanpayne

Follow Payne on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/novelistromanpayne/?hl=en

Read Payne on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/romanpayne

Enjoy Roman Payne images on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.fr/novelistpayne/

Read about Roman Payne on Tumblr: http://romanpayne.tumblr.com

Watch “The Wanderess” trailer on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yegsh_zAQTo

Read about Payne’s most famous novel, “The Wanderess,” on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Wanderess-Roman-Payne/dp/098522813X






May 10th, 2017

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 contact@wanderess.com.


Tours are organized in part by Travel Writers’ Network.




August 2nd, 2016

Novelist and poet, Roman Payne, gives hope to lovers of literature

By Julie Sevigny

Roman Payne on the banks of the Seine in Paris, along with the literary quote he is most famous for.

Imagine the world when Literature was central to everyone’s lives.  In the 19th Century, the father would read Shakespeare (or “The Book of Revelation,” or Edgar Allen Poe) to their families at night.  It’s sad to think that in 2016, the only Shakespeare quote a person might know is, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.”  And we have the “greeting card” to thank for that (a phenomenon that only rose to mass popularity when modern color lithography was invented in the 1930s).

The 1930s was also the decade of “talkies” (or, films with sound), which made Hollywood glitter with gold while libraries became dulled with dust.  Ever since that time, the most money paid for words went to writers of either movies or TV programs, to the clever scribblers of (cheesy) greeting cards.

We are happy to report, however, that old-fashioned poets are still cashing in on “high art”—that’s right, everything from literary-fiction novels to couplets and sonnets, are still making a pretty penny.

Novelist and poet, Roman Payne—an American-born writer who moved to Paris when he was old enough to leave home, and who now lives in the exotic country of Morocco in North Africa—is one such writer who has made a good living from non-commercial literature.  Payne has coined literary phrases for prices as high as $7,000 per word!  Take this well-known three-line minor poem 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 earned the poet over $150,000 since it was written in 2013 as part of his fifth novel, “The Wanderess.”  Still, unlike greeting card writers (who turn out catchy-phrases like money-making monkeys), Payne admits he couldn’t possible write even a single word if money was the only thing being offered:

“I often spend months in bed during phases when I am not inspired to create,” says Payne, “When companies learn of this poetic inactivity, they often come to me with offers of money to get me writing things they can use […] they don’t realize that such acts of artless commercialism only make me less-inspired, stomping out all of my creative desires and intensify the inactivy.  I feel like telling these businessmen: “Try bringing me a muse sometime.  Then I will give you beauty.”

Roman Payne was an oil-painter before he was a writer.  He attended Seattle’s most prestigious private school of fine arts: Cornish College.  His visual art talent is currently being used to beautify a hotel he took over in the historic “Medina” of the Moroccan city of Marrakech.  The hotel owner wanted something of “special beauty,” which he can give to his baby son in 20 years when he comes of age.  Thus he engaged the literary and visual artist to make a palace of an old Moroccan riad.  Payne’s first move was to build an elegant Moorish fountain in the courtyard which he turned into a garden where exotic trees breathe fresh air and life into the riad’s interior courtyard.

Payne's creation in his new boutique hotel in Marrakech, Morocco: A Moorish fountain with courtyard garden. An installation valued at $100,000 USD.

For more about Roman Payne, please visit his website: www.romanpayne.com, search his quotes on www.goodreads.com, or check out his latest novel: www.wanderess.com.


  About Julie Sevigny:

She is a freelance journalist specializing in Literature & Lifestyle.

She is a regular contributor to www.cityroom.com.

Meet Julie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cityroom.writer



Will Facebook Win the Next Nobel Prize for Literature? Will Wine Intoxication Ever Become Mandatory for Shepherds? …An Afternoon with Authors Pietros Maneos and Roman Payne.

February 22nd, 2015

They are both Americans, both highly-literary: Payne is the author of five novels that take place in Europe and follow the lives of itinerant dreamers who wander the world in search of adventure, meaning, and the “poetic life.”  Like his characters, Payne, 38, is an itinerant dreamer who lives in Paris, wanders in Europe, and devotes his time to “living the Homeric life,” and “inventing the next novel.”  Payne and Maneos are both published by Aesthete Press.

Above, Left: Roman Payne (Photo, copyright 2014: Marta Szczesniak, Photography) | Above, Right: Pietros Maneos. NOTE: SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE FOR FULL-SIZED PHOTOS OF THE AUTHORS.

Maneos, 35, is no less a son of the divine Homer.  He seeks aesthetic perfection in all things: his life, his Ancient Greek body, and his literature, which, like Payne’s, marries Classicism and Romanticism.  Unlike other professional authors who seek the cliché in mid-life of some kind of professorship at a university, or a pay check in exchange for scholary pursuits in a library, Maneos chose a life that few have managed to live since the decline of the Ancient Roman aristocracy: he purchased 40-acres of Eden in North Carolina where he is constructing a vineyard to live his own version of a life like the one lived by one of his heroes: the Roman literary-patron Gaius Maecenas.  “Bramabella” is the name that Maneos chose for his vineyard—a construction of two Italian words that, assembled, mean “yearning for beauty.”

The two authors and the editor Jean Sitori are sitting in the office of the newspaper Literature Monthly in Paris.  Jean is entranced as he watches Maneos stand and demonstrate how to properly hurl the discus. After a moment, Jean turns his attention to Payne…

JEAN SITORI:  Roman, speaking of hurling the discus, you just got back from Greece where you were living for about four months…  Are you happy to be back in France?  Were you writing well in Greece?

PAYNE:  I am always happy to be back in France—that is why I almost never leave France to begin with.  When I get tricked into leaving France, I almost always regret it afterwards.  I initially went to Greece this trip to research my next novel at a place on the beach just outside of Athens.  But the weather got bad, the sea turned cold and violent—fault of Poseidon!  I can deal with nasty weather.  But when the inspiration to write disappears, I lose my mind.  Here I was in Greece: the birthplace of the muses, and they had abandoned me.  I tried all the tricks to get literary inspiration back: yoga, running, hard alcohol, nothing worked.  My thoughts were so black that I became convinced that writing was something that was no longer a part of me at all.  Now, back in France, I suddenly feel like writing again; and my work is going well.

JS:  Are you reading at present?

PAYNE:  No.  When I am writing well, I do not read.  Reading takes valuable time away, and it puts another man’s or woman’s style in your head to mar your own.  What are you reading at present, Jean?

Jean makes a wholehearted laugh at this and says, “Let’s see… what am I reading these days?”  With that, he begins leafing through a copy of the woman’s magazine Grazia, which he said, had “mysteriously” appeared in his briefcase that day.  After scanning a blonde woman smoking a cigar for a moment, his eyes light up.  He’d found an article worth commenting on to his guests. Jean summarized the article…

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg told Grazia that he made it his 2015 New Year’s resolution to, quote, “read more literature,” and to finish a book every two weeks.  This resolution, he said, inspired him to make reading “chic” (we didn’t know that Zuckerberg had a magic wand for making things chic, but why not?!), so he has created a Facebook page called “A Year of Books.”  It currently has just over 350,000 likes.

JS:  Pietros, what do you think of Zuckerberg’ public display of affection for reading?

MANEOS:  Well, I think that it is noble of Mr. Zuckerberg to do so, especially as the head of a technology company, since society seems to be awhirl over technological platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and others, which has perhaps led to a decline in the written word. Not that there aren’t a plethora of authors flooding the marketplace, but it seems that modern man has lost the ability to sit quietly with a book for an extended period of time without succumbing to the lure of online ephemera’

JS: Some of the books Zuckerberg said he is reading are excellent titles.  Perhaps his publicist thought them up to make the Facebook founder seem complex and interesting, or perhaps he really is interesting.  Anyway, many of the titles delve into the Baroque, others into Romanticism, others into Ornate Gothic Style… since your own books are complex and ornate, and explore Baroque Romanticism, do you foresee that pop-culture is going to lean more in your direction and away from current trends, like Philip Roth ?

MANEOS:  Well, I think popular culture and literary culture are two disparate entities. With regard to popular culture, I think that it is enamored with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and other such works, no?

But now transitioning to literary culture, I don’t think that there has been much cultural shift from the irony, cynicism, and anti-aestheticism of the previous epoch. I still think that many writers and artists are busy declaiming ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’, while writing in short, spare, suburban sentences. I, of course, have rejected this trend for a Baroque aestheticism that one finds in personages like D’Annunzio and Kazantzakis. I embrace epithet, adjective, apposition and heightened musicality, which are despised by many moderns. So, I certainly consider myself part of a burgeoning counter-culture of To Kalon in modernity along with such movements in the visual arts such as Post-Contemporary.

JS: Pietros, just what is it about “Baroque aestheticism” that you embrace? And can you explain the term a little for our readers who have turned a blind eye to that phrase up until now?

MANEOS:   An example of Baroque aestheticism might be, ‘The light, soft and sensuous, brushed across the crest of the Brushy Mountain,’ where spare, suburban 20th century minimalism would simply say, ‘The light hit the Brushy Mountain.’

The great Matthew Arnold once noted, ”The instinct for beauty is served by Greek literature and art as it is served by no other literature and art,’ and I am striving to continue this Hellenic sensibility in the 21st century.

JS:  Pietros, when one reads your work; or talks to you personally, and listens to your music playlists, one feels that you are more Greek than any full-blood Greek currently alive in Athens, or in Sparta, or Macedonia… How come you didn’t start Bramabella in Greece instead of America? Or at least, why don’t you live six months of the year in North Carolina, and six months of the year in Greece?

MANEOS:   Well, although I am Greek by descent and sensibility as an ardent student of classical antiquity, I do not speak demotic Greek, so that alone would be a challenge. Additionally, Greece is suffering under dire economic conditions, so if I ventured there, I might end up starving to death, ha!

Also, similarly to the orator/philosopher Isocrates, I have always believed that Greece or rather Hellenism is not so much of a language, or a land-mass as it is a world-view, a philosophy, if you will. Figures like Oscar Wilde, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Paul Cartledge, John Boardman and many other Artist/Scholars are as Hellenic as any Greek whose last name happens to end in ‘os’ by happenstance. You too, my friend, are Hellenic even though you were born in America, and have elected to reside abroad.

Though, I must make a final confession to you – Traveling to Greece to raise a classicizing army to battle ISIL in Syria-Iraq does intrigue me, as it is perfumed with both Herakleanism and Byronism.

JS:  Pietros, our poor friend Roman is starting to daydream over there in his chair—one can tell because his eyes look like Lucy in the Heavens with Rhinestones—maybe he is bored because we are so interested in your work right now.   To ask you a question about Roman’s work… His first novel was a Parisian thriller in the Dostoevsky style. His second, Cities and Countries, was a Bildungsroman set in an imaginary world.  His third was a tragic love story.  His fourth was a diary of seducing women in Paris—everyone from impoverished seamstresses without breeding and a ripe age that can be counted on three hands, to blue-blooded countesses cheating on their husbands.  Then his fifth novel, “The Wanderess,” well that is more hard to define.  The question is… you, Pietros, are a literary scholar and, if I may flatter you by saying: a literary visionary.  What do you think Roman’s sixth novel will be about?  What do you think it “should” be about?

MANEOS:  Roman is a great genius, and I think that for Rooftop Soliloquy and The Wanderess he should be considered for the Nobel Prize, but to speak of your question, I think that he should continue in the Heroic and Aesthetic vein. Perhaps, since he is descended from the ‘Chian Nightingale’ – Homer – in such a pronounced way, he could write a Modern Odyssey akin to what Kazantzakis attempted.

JS: You make the distinction between two phrases: ‘The light hit the Brushy Mountain,’ and one that I believe you appreciate more: ‘The light, soft and sensuous, brushed across the crest of the Brushy Mountain.’ …Mark Zuckerberg would probably claim to agree with your tastes. Do you think this is an anomaly—the preference of a well-educated billionaire matching the preference of a Homeric poet who is most likely a descendant of the immortal poet Sappho ? Or do you think that we may be entering a new literary age—a time when people are, frankly, sick and tired of “spare, suburban, 20th Century minimalism?”

MANEOS:  Well, I am not sure about a new literary age, but one can only hope! I think that my kinship with figures like Roman Payne, Tomasz Rut, Michael Newberry, Sabin Howard, Graydon Parrish, Michael Imber and others is indicative of a cultural paradigm shift. I am always hesitant to use the term ‘movement’ – but – there is certainly a shared sense of aesthetic values.  And one of my aims is to have Bramabella stand as an expression of this aesthetic.

JS to PAYNE: Pietros Maneos is a poet, novella scribe, and satirist… he is a writer of many styles, many genres. What is your favorite genre of his at present?

PAYNE:   Maneos has arrived at a sacred mastery of certain literary forms (I am not fond of the word “genre”).  I would say, these “sacred forms” are my favorites of his, since no one does them better than he does.  The forms that come to my mind first is what I would call his “Bramabella Pastorales.”  In these poems, Maneos is able paint a landscape like Renoir or Monet, construct a exquisite virgin like John Williams Waterhouse, sing of the youthful love of a troubadour, or the old man’s lament of a Cavafy poem.  He can prepare the body to fight like a Homeric hero, fall to tears like a Nocturne of Chopin.  They are all that is life: his Bramabella poems are the laments of a poet intoxicated with wine, and the joys of a madman sipping the sweet fumes of the poppy.

JS:  And what is the literary style that you would like to see Maneos work on next?

PAYNE:   I would love to see him write a 200 page “roman d’amour” in the French tradition… an old style novel about a couple’s first love, and their last.

JS:  (To the readers)… This concludes our all-too-short interview, but we at Literature Monthly hope to have Maneos and Payne with us again soon!

Author, Pietros Maneos

Find out more about Pietros Maneos at www.pietrosmaneos.com

Author, Roman Payne (Photo copyright: Marta Szczesniak)


Find out more about Roman Payne at www.romanpayne.com