Stewart Payne was born at home in Fogo, Newfoundland, in 1932, the tenth of eleven children born to Albert and Hilda Mae (Oake) Payne. Upon graduating high school in 1949, he attended Memorial College in St. John’s to train to become a teacher. Two years after he had graduated from St. Andrew’s School in Fogo, he returned to become its principal. Stewart began performing as a choir member and lay reader for the Anglican Church early in his teaching career. The seed was planted, and in 1952 he returned to St. John’s to study theology at Queen’s College. In 1956, Bishop J. A. Meaden sent Stewart to Happy Valley–Goose Bay as a student minister. His experiences in Labrador during the summer of 1956 assured him that his future was in pastoral ministry. Today Stewart makes his home in Corner Brook.
What inspired you to become a writer?
Several people, over the years, thought that I should write my life’s story and told me so. Coming from my background, where I didn’t have much by way of resources to get started on a career, I thought that my story might be inspirational to young people in particular, who might lack the necessary resources to get started on a career or in life’s work. As well, I felt the need to say ‘thank you’ to all who helped and supported me on my journey and to pay tribute to a number of people.
What is your genre?
Cut From the Cloth of Fogo is my autobiography, made up of several kinds of stories that speak to who I am and where my roots are.
What is your writing process?
In the beginning I wrote some things and then set it aside for the longest time. When I got back to it, I would take a certain period of my life and write about that and move on to the next period, constantly doing revisions on the whole lot, and submitting drafts to some competent people for their critical comments.
What books have influenced your writing style the most?
I am not aware of any particular books that influenced my writing style except that I have read a number of autobiographies over the years.
Do you ever experience “writer’s block” and if so, how do you prevail?
I don’t know that I ever felt ‘writer’s block’ as such. I could get distracted by other demands upon my time and energy and put writing aside for periods of time. Finally I would give myself some deadlines and press on to finish ‘the book’.
Are you currently working on any writing projects?
I have no ‘writing projects’ at the present time but keep thinking that I should do another book but what would it be about.
Do you have a favourite writer and if so, who and why?
My two favourite writers are Henri J.M. Nouwen and John R. Claypool. I took a course at Boston College from Henri Nouwen and heard John Claypool as a guest speaker at a conference. Their writings are so genuine, practical, from the heart and down to earth.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
Over the summer, I have read Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley (500 pages) and Miles Frankel’s book, I wanted to Know if I Got to Get Married.
What advice would you give your younger writing self, based on your experiences now?
Do you have any advice for emerging writers?
Have confidence in your own abilities, persist and work as hard as required to complete a project.