Stephen Russell Payne

Stephen Russell Payne

Stephen is a 4th generation Vermonter from the fabled Northeast Kingdom. He received a Master’s in English from Tufts University after completing their pre-med program. He has deep compassion for the underprivileged in our society from his many years of practicing surgery in rural New England, and previously, as a police officer. He has been mentored by poets X. J. Kennedy, Denise Levertov, and Galway Kinnell, as well as by novelists Jennifer Finney Boylan and Howard Frank Mosher. He has published five books, including: two novels-CLIFF WALKING, and its sequel, LIFE ON A CLIFF; TIES THAT BIND US - A VERMONT SHORT STORY COLLECTION; and RIDING MY GUITAR-THE RICK NORCROSS STORY. Stephen is active in the League of Vermont Writers and has successfully promoted his books through years of book events, radio and TV appearances, regional newspaper coverage, and social media. Through sales and appearances, he raises money and awareness for charitable organizations.

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Where my books are sold.
Any independent bookstore (the best!) or through online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

Author Book Cover 1
978-1-7322599-1-1 Cliff Walking - 2nd Edition: Set on the rocky and at times unforgiving coast of Maine, Stephen Russell Payne’s emotionally powerful debut novel, Cliff Walking, shares a poignant tale of loss and love that weaves together the lives of three desperate people who struggle mightily to find a way to save each other. Kate Johnson is a recovering addict from California, married to a cunning, cruel man named Leland Johnson. When she gathers the strength to escape her hellish life, she leaves with her bright, artistic twelve-year-old son, Stringer, crossing Canada as stowaways on a freight train. They eventually find their way to Winter’s Cove, a provincial town on the coast of Maine. Francis Monroe is a famous Maine seascape artist whose wife died windsurfing on the bay in front of their bungalow the year before, after losing her battle with breast cancer. Emotionally paralyzed since her death, Francis has been haunted both by her loss and his subsequent inability to paint. When Stringer appears at Francis’s bungalow, the meeting triggers events that dramatically alter the course of their lives. Thrust into a life-threatening altercation, Stringer is forced to take action, and ends up facing felony charges. As Stringer and his loved ones do battle with the local sheriff and the politically aspiring state’s attorney, the citizens of Winter’s Cove have to navigate their own deep-seated prejudices, their beliefs about family and community, and the painful necessity to reexamine justice in their town. An intimate, probing novel that mines the healing power of hope that can grow out of shared desperation, Cliff Walking is a captivating love story that carries readers on an intense, thought-provoking journey. Both fast-paced and complex, this novel is nearly impossible to put down.

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978-1-7322599-0-4 Life on a Cliff: This is the sequel to Cliff Walking. Life On A Cliff is the highly-anticipated sequel to Payne’s award-winning novel Cliff Walking. Famous seascape artist Francis Monroe has come to love Kate Johnson and her artistic son Stringer, who were tracked from California to Maine by their abusive husband and father, Leland. After surviving a brutal attack and a subsequent grueling trial, Francis assumes they can all enjoy a normal life together. Kate, however, is anything but settled as her old demons of addiction and self-destructive behavior threaten to destroy the good life they have fought so hard to create. Set on the breathtakingly beautiful coast of Maine, Life On A Cliff explores how deeply rooted we are in our established ways and that change, in its many forms, can be exceedingly hard to accept—even if it is for the better.

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978-1-5347-9216-6 Ties That Bind Us - A Collection of Vermont Short Stories: From one of New England's finest writers of regional fiction comes a terrific new collection of Vermont-based short stories that are both thoroughly entertaining and deeply-moving. Payne takes us inside the real world of rural Vermont in ways that invite readers to become an integral part of these complex and fascinating communities. From the startling discovery made by Smokey Latrell, the local dumpkeep, to the accident involving Claude Demers, the town snow plowman, these Vermonters' stories reveal the critical struggles that live below the surface of all our lives. TIES THAT BIND US should be required reading for anyone seeking to better understand the psyche of fiercely independent northern New Englanders. Filled with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, these stories linger with readers long after the collection is finished.

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978-1482529272 Riding My Guitar-The Rick Norcross Story: This important book chronicles the fascinating life of American folk singer, Rick Norcross, whose career began in 1963 in tiny East Hardwick, Vermont, at the annual Tulip Festival. A natural performer and gifted songwriter, Rick has toured extensively, sharing the bill with Paul Simon, Diz Disley, Al Stewart, Doc Watson, Brad Paisley, Terri Clark, Jason Aldean, and others. During the 1970’s Rick was the entertainment editor at the Tampa Times, interviewing and photographing the world’s most famous musicians. His rare candid photos of Elvis are some of the most striking ever taken. Returning to Burlington, Vermont, Rick founded the long-running Green Mountain Chew Chew Food and Music Festival, and formed Rick and the Ramblers, Vermont’s premier western swing band. Riding My Guitar is filled with extraordinary stories from Rick’s life– often humorous, sometimes heartbreaking – but always steeped in his love of Vermont’s iconic history.

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