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DAMASCENA: the tale of roses and Rumi
Skywriter Books
June, 2014, 348 pages

Holly Payne’s spellbinding tale brings the unparalleled poet, Mevlana Rumi, to life, and transports readers to the enchanting world of 13th century Persia. Simply but elegantly told, the story unravels the mystery surrounding a legendary orphaned girl, who discovers her gift of turning roses into oil. Named after the flowering rosa damascena, the girl reluctantly assumes the role of a living saint for the miracles she performs—longing only for one that matters: finding her mother. Deeply wounded by the separation since birth, Damascena undergoes a riveting transformation when she meets Rumi and discovers the secret of the rose. Imbued with rich historical research and inspired by the devastating disappearance of Rumi’s most lauded spiritual companion, Shams of Tabriz, Holly Payne has courageously opened herself to receive Rumi’s teachings and offer a timeless love story. Inspiring and magical, the story of Damascena transmits the wisdom of the heart, inviting us to transform our pain into love.



is a stunner. Holly Payne takes us into the yearning at the heart of the mystic’s search. She turns the Sufi quest for connection with God into a human drama that is both moving and soaring.

Tamim Ansary, author of Games without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan

Holly Payne has deftly captured the magic, beauty, and ecstatic energy of the Sufi’s ancient sema dance with her story about a girl, Damascena, whose life transcends her own world, and ours. The prose transports the reader creating astonishing characters and at times, a thriller-like the plot, carrying us into a world that is part hallucination and part real as Payne weaves in themes of loss, beauty, devotion, evil, struggle, magic, and, ultimately love.

David Ewing Duncan, best-selling author of Experimental Man: What one man’s body reveals about his future, your health, and our toxic world

Damascena is a captivating read, with a beautifully satisfying ending. In her meticulously researched novel, Holly Payne’s expertly crafted prose captures not only the souls of her characters but the essence of Rumi’s wisdom: that life’s shattering experiences can break our hearts open, ultimately compelling us to receive the love intended for us. I loved this book.

Kristen Harnisch, author of The Vintner’s Daughter

Holly Payne lives inside her characters. Seeing through their eyes and feeling with their hearts, she illuminates the soul personality in each portrayal. Ms. Payne is an intuitive writer who lets life rip through the pages. Damascena is storytelling embedded with timeless wisdom.

Francesca McCartney, PhD, author Body of Health: The New Science of Intuition Medicine®
Founder, Academy of Intuition Medicine® & Energy Medicine University

Read Damascena! Love will come alive for you in the life of Rumi. Holly Payne is a wildly gifted writer serving the great cause of love with discerning devotion, insight and lyrical prose.

Dr. Marc Gafni, author Your Unique Self, The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment
Co-Founder, Teacher in Residence, Center for Integral Wisdom

Holly Payne’s latest novel touches Jelaluddin Rumi’s essential beauty within the fragrance of 13th century Turkey and the rich tapestry of his life as a mystic, poet and honored scholar. Payne exposes the very human challenges Rumi encountered as he grew into one of the greatest poets of all time.

Murshida Mariam Baker, author of Woman as Divine: Tales of the Goddess
senior teacher, Sufi Ruhaniat International and the Mevlevi Order of America

This is one of the most gorgeous novels I’ve ever read. Payne’s research was so thorough. It makes me want to learn more about the dervishes, their religious practices, and about Rumi and his achingly beautiful poetry. The themes of forgiveness, spirituality and all the different forms of love resonated with me on every page.

Laura Marquez, Emmy Winner and former ABC News Correspondent