Sex and Spirituality Find a Home in Visionary Fiction – by Peggy Payne

Where sex and spirituality meet is in the experience of dropping boundaries, of feeling expansion, dissolution, limitlessness. In both, we can have the experience of dissolving into a larger existence, joining a great ocean of being.

Where sex-and-spirituality fits well is in the world of Visionary Fiction, which allows the reader to feel the experience vicariously and recognize a connection between these two areas of life so often kept severely separate.

That’s important, because where these two subjects are brought together there is often squirming discomfort, controversy and hot anger. People are so often offended—incensed, even —that the two could even be mentioned together. Many take the stance that something so animalistic and messy as bodily functions should not be allowed to sully the beautiful purity of religious/spiritual experience.

This dichotomy should not be. The two are inevitably intertwined; bodies and souls are, at least for the moment, joined. Sex is central to human life. And we can use stories —Visionary Fiction — to allow a reader to sense this or feel it more strongly.

 A Calling I Didn’t Request

 I seem to be making a career of focusing on this intersection, though I never meant to. I never intended to write about spiritual experience or about sex. In fact, I didn’t even plan to write fiction. I was for years a happy travel writer and freelance writer on other nonfiction subjects.

But then one day I returned to my office to write a news story about a government committee that, in my view, had done all the wrong things. I said to myself, “If I were going to write a novel, what would it be about?” Making up a story felt like taking charge, which I couldn’t do with North Carolina government (though I still wish I could.) Then … Continue reading

Fantasy, Spiritual, or Visionary Fiction

Editor’s Note: We are happy to offer popular and respected Visionary Fiction author Peggy Payne’s latest thoughts on Visionary Fiction and the novels she writes.

Peggy Payne speaking

Last night, as guest speaker at a book club in Holly Springs, North Carolina, I talked my way to a new understanding of what kind of novel I’m in the midst of writing.

My two-thirds-written story is one that many readers would consider a fantasy, because a couple of the characters are spirits from what is known as the astral plane.

However, I’ve never thought of myself as a fantasy writer. I like to write and read realistic plausible fiction about the supernatural: spiritual/religious experience as the leading example. My three published novels, all on spiritual matters, likely fall into this category that I am learning to call Visionary Fiction.

My first, Revelation, is about a liberal intellectual minister who began hearing God talking out loud in English, though he had never believed in that sort of thing. This story is not fantasy. It’s spiritual experience. It could happen. It does happen.

Sister India is about an American innkeeper in a Hindu holy city, with scenes that, as in my other novels, focus on the intersection of sex and spirituality. There are moments that are other-worldly, extra-sensory, but not impossible.

Most recently Cobalt Blue is about a woman who has a spontaneous and disruptive spiritual experience, the rising of life force energy in her that some religions call kundalini. The story also involves a respectful treatment of voodoo. This book travels in the realm of belief … Continue reading

At Sea With My Writing – Peggy Payne

A Novelist’s Turning Point, Mid-Atlantic (Summer 1997)


Even from the farthest reach of the dock on New York’s 53rd Street, the Queen Elizabeth 2 was too long to photograph.  I couldn’t, with a wide-angle lens, get the whole ship into the frame at once.  So I shot it by halves, the front and then the back, not sure what I’d do with two mismatched ship halves when I got home.

This ship, the QE2, is the last of the world’s transatlantic liners.   The Cunard press kit had described it as three football fields long.  I don’t measure things in football fields.  I keep score in numbers of words, copy-inches, books.  It’s as a writer that I was heading to sea, and not only as a travel writer with a notebook, but as a novelist bringing along a manuscript that had been too long in progress.  I was running late, by years, in getting another book out, felt pressed, frustrated, discouraged.  I planned to look at the manuscript, away from my usual life, see where I stood with it.  (Working aboard the QE2 was an idea that had also occurred to Francis Ford Coppola, Ray Bradbury, and other writers I would soon meet toting manuscripts on this voyage.)

But there was still another reason for my taking this trip:  I am approaching the anniversary of my 25th year as a freelance writer, two and a half decades typing out of one little office or another in the outer fringes of Raleigh’s downtown.   This crossing was to be both a celebration and, optimistically, the start of … Continue reading