About Stephen Russell Payne

Stephen’s latest novel, YOU WERE ALWAYS THERE, was released in September of 2022 to excellent reviews. This is a powerful coming-of-age love story set in the 1970s in northern Vermont. He will be doing many book events during 2023 in support of this book. If your book group would be interested in him visiting for a discussion of this or any of his other books, please contact him at: srpaynemdvt@gmail.com.

Stephen’s highly-anticipated novel, LIFE ON A  CLIFF was released Sept. 28, 2018. This is the sequel to his 2011, award-winning novel, Cliff Walking. He will be making many appearances this year in support of his new book. Please check the home page of this website for his schedule. 

Stephen Russell Payne is a fourth-generation Vermonter from the Northeast Kingdom town of St. Johnsbury. A lifelong writer, he has published fiction, non-fiction and poetry in a number of publications including Vermont Life magazine, the Tufts ReviewThe Vermont Literary Review, Livin’ the Vermont Way magazine and Route 7- Vermont Literary Journal. He is also the author of the 2013 book, Riding My Guitar – The Rick Norcross Story, a fascinating biography of iconic Vermont folk and western swing musician, Rick Norcross.A portion of proceeds from that book go to support the Lake Champlain Land Trust. 

Stephen first became serious about writing after an inspiring visit to his 7th grade English class by local poet Galway Kinnell. He graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy and then moved to Boston, where he studied premed and English at Tufts University, receiving his masters in English before entering medical school at the University of Vermont. After finishing his surgical training, he went into practice at Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, Vermont. He has also taught at UVM as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery since 1988. Over the years, he has studied with and/or been mentored by poets X. J. Kennedy and the late Denise Levertov, as well as with novelists Howard Frank Mosher, Jennifer Finney Boylan and Chris Bohjalian. Stephen has also worked with renowned freelance editor Lesley Kellas Payne (no relation) of Fresno, CA, for the last twenty years.  

Payne’s debut novel, Cliff Walking, developed in part from his experiences both as a former police officer and for the last 28 years as a surgeon caring for victims of spousal and child abuse. It is a unique blending of an intense and tender love story with a realistic portrayal of the hard realities of domestic abuse.

Stephen Russell Payne, Vermont Author
Stephen Russell Payne, Vermont Author

Stephen lives on a Vermont hill farm with his family where their land is managed by a local organic farmer. Stephen loves cutting his own firewood and spends much of his free time in the woods, where he often comes up with and develops story ideas. He gets a kick out of  his restored 1970, yellow, bubble-front Skidoo, which he uses to pack many miles of cross country ski trails. He and his family spend as much time as possible on Lake Champlain, where they are avid Hobie Cat sailers. They are strong supporters of both the Lake Champlain Land Trust and the Vermont Land Trust.

Through sales of Cliff WalkingStephen is committed to raising money for causes working to end spousal and child abuse, including Prevent Child Abuse Vermont.