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Cobalt Blue: A Novel

A novel for courageous readers and seekers, COBALT BLUE is a turbulent, gorgeous ride into sacred sex..

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“Her writer’s eye sees to the center of things — to the spiritual center of our beings….”

Clyde Edgerton
Author of The Night Train, Raney, and others


My Life On Earth And Elsewhere

Top 100 on Amazon in Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy

A YA novel for adults including old people. Sensing she’s about to get bad news, Darcy, sixteen, feels herself—or her spirit, to be more exact—rise weightless, out of her body, lifting off the seat of the patio chair. How can this be happening? Her light-bodied airy self hovers high in a backyard tree. 

She is not alone! A beautiful teenage boy, shy as a deer, stands in the branches nearby. He sees her and vanishes—as she is pulled back into her body, again tight-packed in her skin. 

Her father is talking. Her parents are separating. She’s stunned. And she’s wildly excited by what just happened—though fears she’s lost her family and her mind in the same afternoon. 

While her father is in his own religious crisis, she enters an entrancing spirit realm. Must she live a half-life in each of two worlds or must she make an impossible choice? Can the tree boy Risto ever pass as a regular guy? And what becomes of a young spirit being like him? In My Life On Earth and Elsewhere, Darcy has to find a way around barriers present since before the beginning of time.

“What makes this novel so compelling, and so charming is that it focuses on that point where the natural encounters the supernatural.”

Lead review in The New York Journal of Books,

“Magical…original and compulsively readable.


A “mind-blowing metaphysical;” novel

Book blogger Anthony Avina.

“If you’re into astrology and alternate dimensions and reincarnation …I feel like you would really like this book.”

Kira’s Library, TikTok

“An immersive experience…Definitely deserves 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐… Romance, realms and astral journeys, personal acceptance, religious awakening, friendship, family problems (and solutions)…Amazing book!”

Valentina/Bookish, TikTok


Sister India

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

A troubled young American woman tries to start life anew in a Hindu holy city on the Ganges.

After an incident of devastating violence for which she feels some responsibility, Estelle leaves home in her small Southern town. She flees to Varanasi, taking a new name and gradually a radically changed appearance.

She hides her beauty in  hundreds of pounds of fat, because she feels it sparked the trouble she wants to forget. She hides her tender feelings behind an angry manner. She is reclusive, rarely leaves the guesthouse on the river where she is manager. Instead she communes with the river.

But trouble follows her here. Love too finds her again.  She becomes embroiled in a web of hot religious conflict suffused with unlikely intimacy.

Sister India is a Varanasi novel, an odd sort of love story unfolding in a city heavy with the smoke of burning pyres, with intense religiosity, conflict, and the prayers of pilgrims for many thousands of years.

For fans of India fiction, especially by Manil Suri, Anita Desai, or Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, or of Robertson Davies’ Deptford trilogy.

“From the novel’s very first sentence, her ravaged voice grips the reader.”

The New York Times

“A poetic mosaic of sights, smells, sounds, and tastes”


“Benares Silk: West-meets-East defies the oriental stereotypes in an American’s

novel set in India’s holiest city.”

India Today International

“Worlds collide”

Olivia Goldsmith,
The Mail on Sunday,
You Magazine

“So very relevant to our times”

Benazir Bhutto
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan

“…Pits the ineffable demand of the spiritual against the pragmatic concerns of the worldly.”

New Age Journal

“Payne writes with a sure, graceful hand, moving her characters from fearful isolation to connection, from awakening to redemption.”

The Charlotte Observer

Sister India is a book of wisdom, even, one wants to say, of enlightenment.”

The Independent Weekly


A New York Times Editors’ Choice

When a college town minister hears the voice of God, the doubts and confusion he experiences threaten his career and his marriage, test his conscience and his soul.

The Rev. Swain Hammond had never believed in a God speaking out loud in English in his back yard. But he knows what he heard. it’s undeniable.

His situation is made more difficult by the fact that his Chapel Hill congregation is largely UNC professors and their families. Is their cool brainy pastor losing his mind?

This might sound like the premise of a comic story. It’s not. Revelation unfolds the story of a man in spiritual crisis, spiritual emergency, and the people who admire and fear for him.

For fans of Susan Howatch’s Starbridge novels or work of John Updike or any literary spiritual fiction.

“…Real emotional power… most readers will find themselves both satisfied and disturbed.”

The Atlanta Journal/Constitution

“…She tells an incredible story incredibly well.”

The Baltimore Sun

“Perceptively written, often poignant….”

Publishers Weekly

“She treats an age-old subject… with a freshness that makes it real and relevant to everyday life.”

The Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer

“Ms. Payne is quite good at conveying those rare moments when one is astoundingly aware that one is alive.”

The News and Observer, Raleigh

“Peggy Payne’s first novel is very good… She delivers the goods emotionally.”

The New York Times

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Cobalt Blue

Winner of a 2014 IPPY for Visionary Fiction

At work painting in her studio, commercial artist Andie Branson has a sudden, shocking spiritual experience, a brush with the divine that is seductive and terrifying.

She has long hungered for whatever would force her out of her familiar limits, her increasingly narrow routine. But her spiritual hunger, her reaction to the experience, leads her first to compulsive sex, a sort of abandonment of herself, which is not the expansiveness she’d had in mind. She is shocked, appalled at losing self-control.

Sex and spirituality seem contradictory to some, but they do coexist very powerfully. God and sex can be on the same page, perhaps stirring new feelings and thoughts about both.

This dark and raw, yet ultimately redemptive story follows a brave and very troubled young woman to a triumphant new start on life.

One of the most intense psychological thrillers, Cobalt Blue is an erotic and spiritual pilgrimage, winner of an IPPY for Visionary Fiction.

For fans of The Magus by John Fowles or John Updike’s blend of religion and sexuality or Doris Lessing

“Beautifully intense.”

Kelley Harrell, Huffington Post

“A novel of ideas… a pilgrimage… a scorcher.”

Ben Steelman, StarNews

Cobalt Blue is entrancing and unsettling, a novel that gets at the marrow of sexual and spiritual experience. Peggy Payne is one of our most gifted writers ”

Angela Davis-Gardner

Author of Butterfly’s Child, Plum Wine

“An engrossing story of the spiritual awakening of a painter who becomes so obsessed with sex that she nearly loses her sanity. Payne strips away the barriers to female passion ”

Barbara Hand Clow

Author of The Liquid Light of Sex

“Zesty … entertaining and rich in detail ”

Oscar Hijuelos

Pulitzer Fiction winner, author of Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

“Gorgeously lyrical, Cobalt Blue ventures into dark psychological territory before the light finally rises. This bold story deals with frightening hypersexuality, unwanted religious experience, and hard-won transcendence. With its Jungian underpinnings … this beautifully written novel will appeal to anyone fascinated by boundaries, taboos, obsession, and mystery ”

Anna Jean Mayhew

Author of The Dry Grass of August


Doncaster: A Legacy of Personal Style

This book is the story of a women’s clothing company built on helping every person develop their individual style and meet their personal goals. That means every employee as well as every customer. The author found, as she began work on this project sponsored by the clothing company, that what might have been a routine copy-writing job instead became an important piece of her life’s work. As an outsider to the company, Peggy realized early in the process of the research that this organization was serious and enthusiastic about encouraging the development of individual potential. This was a philosophy close to her own heart. So writing this company’s history helped her to get out a piece of her own message. Thus, she became an example of the company’s hiring philosophy: to find people who could meet the company’s needs through fulfilling their own individual dreams. While a bit out-of-date on the details of the firm, this is still a valuable picture of how a business can bring out the best in people.


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At Sea With My Writing

A Novelist Cruises to Book Deals

A 20-page mini-book

Twice Peggy Payne has set sail across the Atlantic hoping to take a break from obsessive worrying over a novel-in-progress. Twice she has come home with unexpected, valuable, near-magical answers to writing and publishing problems and, in fairly short order, a fresh book contract.

The first voyage, on the Queen Elizabeth 2, led ultimately to publication of Sister India, a story set in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi beside the Ganges. (Water always seems to provide some writing magic.) Appropriately, the publisher that brought the novel out was Riverhead, an imprint of The Penguin Group.

Obviously, this writer should have boarded ship immediately when she started having trouble with her next novel, Cobalt Blue. Exhausted and frustrated, she ultimately went back to sea on the Queen Mary 2.

Cobalt Blue emerged in the spring of 2013, nine months after that voyage. It was chosen as the May book of the month for a Playboy Radio Network program and has hit the top 100 Kindle books on spirituality. All of Payne’s fiction focuses on the intersection of sex and spirituality.

At Sea with My Writing is two articles, one for each voyage, on what Peggy learned (and ate), offering, too, glimmers of the profound pleasures of writing and a few days at sea.


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The Healing Power of Doing Good

(Co-authored with Allan Luks)

Conventional wisdom has always held that when we help others, some of the good we do flows back to us. That satisfaction has always been thought to be largely emotional: feeling good when you do good. Now important widely- discussed research shows that helping others regularly produces significant health benefits as well. In fact, it has effects similar to those many of us experience when we exercise.

Both for those who are already giving back and for those who are considering it, this valuable personal guide tells you how to choose an activity that’s right for you, how to maximize the health benefits, and how to overcome the main obstacle to getting started: lack of time. The Healing Power of Doing Good reaffirms and explains that when we care for others we care for ourselves. It is an important read for those suffering from chronic health problems as well as the health conscious, anyone interested in how our mind affects our body, and people in the helping professions. And it reminds us that never has there been a greater need for caring than there is today.

It is almost impossible to read this book without wanting to do good. Both for those who are already volunteering and for those who are considering it, this valuable personal guide tells you how to choose an activity that’s right for you, how to maximize the health benefits and how to overcome the main obstacle to getting started: lack of time.

The Healing Power of Doing Good reaffirms and explains that when we care for others we care for ourselves.

Co-author Alan Luks teaches at Fordham University. A leader in the social and health service fields, he is also author of Will America Sober Up? and You Are What You Drink, as well as editor of Having Been There.

“Read it! Follow its teachings and heal your life and the life of others.”

Bernie Siegel, MD,
Author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles

“In The Healing Power of Doing Good (Ballantine), authors Allan Luks and Peggy Payne report: … It is the process of helping others that is the healing factor, regardless of the kind of help offered or its outcome.”


“The findings of your survey support what many who volunteer already know: By serving others we are able to lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives.”

President George H.W. Bush

“Can holding abandoned babies really cure a backache? It seems to. Such caring might reduce the growing violence of our society….”

Library Journal

“If heeded, this is a book that could change the fabric of society and the health of nations.”

Mental Medicine Update