Early from the Dance

“The kind of book that makes you remember first loves, best friends, summer dreams. And it almost makes you believe in second chances.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Best boyhood friends from opposite sides of the Killdeer, NC tracks, Cary and Adam are inseparable. Nothing can threaten their friendship. That is until Jane McCrae comes into their lives like a hurricane. When Cary falls in love with her, the boys’ twosome becomes a tightly knit group of three. They eagerly make plans for the summer after high school graduation. When Cary must remain in Killdeer because of family problems, Adam and Jane head off to the Outer Banks alone. Adam promises Cary he will keep an eye on Jane, but instead falls in love with her under the spell of the Lost Colony hotel and its mysterious and charming proprietor. In a summer full of bright promise and heartache, Adam’s feelings for Jane force him to make a difficult choice that will haunt him for years to come.

Thirteen years later, Adam a successful artist living in New York City , returns home to Killdeer and catches a glimpse of Jane in a gilded mirror at a party. Together they set out on a daring present-day journey to recover the past they’ve both tried to escape.

A novel of innocence lost and the redemptive power of memory and forgiveness, Early from the Dance is a rich, entrancing, and unforgettable story from a writer of extraordinary gifts.

“David Payne is in top form, and it’s some of the strongest, most demanding writing to be found in American fiction today.”
The Los Angeles Times

Barefoot to Avalon

“An elegy to a brother that plumbs depths beyond depths — a fever-dream of a memoir, a blazing map of familial love and loss, headlong and heartbreaking and gorgeously written.”

— James Kaplan

Back to Wando Passo

Back to Wando Passo quivers with authentic life and is so bold in concept and audacious in scope that it seems like the summing up and exclamation point of a great writer’s career. The novel contains everything — from the horror of 1860s rice culture slavery, to the perils of modern love, to the history of rock and roll . . . Payne takes on the whole known world and pulls it off with the deftness of a writer in his prime.”

–Pat Conroy

Gravesend Light

“If you don’t belong to a book club, start one with this book… the grains of this plot eventually gain an irresistible momentum till it begins to move like an avalanche, crashing toward a spectacular natural disaster and a moral calamity.”

–The Christian Science Monitor

Ruin Creek

“I begin with what may seem a bold observation: David Payne is the most gifted American novelist of his generation. Ruin Creek is the best new novel I’ve read this year. As in Early from the Dance, he sets his literary table on the Carolina Outer Banks, a literary territory as palpable in these pages as. the Salinas Valley in John Steinbeck’s.”

—The Dallas Morning News

Early from the Dance

“Reading stretches of Early From the Dance is like attending a play in which every line is a curtain line.  Payne has the deepest human sympathy for his characters and knowledge of the heart; everyone in this book comes alive… Payne is extraordinarily gifted.”

–The Boston Globe

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