Today, we have with us Jamie Baywood, the author of the novel, Getting Rooted in New Zealand.
1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from California. In my mid-twenties, I had bad dating experiences in California and a dream to live abroad. I read in a tour book that New Zealand’s population had 100,000 fewer men than women. In the attempt to have some ‘me time’ I moved to New Zealand. For the past three years, I’ve disassembled and reassembled my life by moving to different countries. I’ve lived in five countries now; America, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and England.
2) When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
My education is in fine arts. I had a lot of art shows in California and New Zealand and even managed an art collective in Auckland. I was bored with the fine art scene. Everything has already been done before in painting, but I am the only person that can tell my own story. Writing feels like a more honest form of art than any other method I’ve tried. While I was in New Zealand I met a director named Thomas Sainsbury, he asked me what I was doing in New Zealand. My everyday stories made him laugh and he asked me to write a monologue for him. I had never done anything like that before. I was shocked by the adrenaline rush that came with storytelling and making people laugh.
3) How long does it take you to write a book?
Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. To write my book Getting Rooted In New Zealand, I relied upon my personal journals, e-mails, and memories. In February 2013, I organized my stories into a cohesive narrative. It went through several rounds of editing and then I published in April.
4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My book is a true story. My life has been so strange it sounds like fiction, but it is really too weird to be made up. My writing quirk is people don’t believe me when I’m telling the truth.
5) How did you come up with the title?
In New Zealand, I had a lot of culture shock. One of the most memorable moments was learning the meaning of the Kiwi slang word “rooted.” One night I was brushing my teeth with my flatmate and I said, ‘I’m really excited to live in this house because I have been travelling a lot and I just need to settle down, stop travelling and get rooted’. He was choking on his toothbrush and asked me if I knew what that meant because it had a completely different meaning New Zealand than it does in the States.
6) Where do you get your information and/or ideas for your books?
I constantly make myself notes. This summer in Wales, I was scribbling stories on the backs of maps and Google directions as a passenger in the car. I also send myself text messages or emails riding in trains or buses. It might not look like I’m writing a book if one was to observe me, but I am constantly watching, listening and thinking about writing.
7) What are some of your favorite books?
Area Code 212 by Tama Janowitz, The Buddha, Geoff and Me by Edward Canfor-Dumas, and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins.
8) Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
The hardest part has been trying to promote the book while simultaneously attempting to stay anonymous. My life is literally an open book, but Jamie Baywood is a pen name. I haven’t told my family that I’ve written or published a book. They think I’m just living in the UK working on a MA in Design studying book covers.
I am rather enjoying leading a double life. I am living in a different country from my family and my husband’s family so that aids the author secret. I have a few relatives on both sides of the family having babies this year, so both sets of families are mostly talking about the imminent arrivals and not questioning what I am doing.
9) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like yoga, pilates and running. I recently ran 10K in York, England raising money for a friend with MS.
10) What does your family think of your writing?
I haven’t told my family that I’ve written or published a book. They think I’m just living in the UK working on a MA in Design studying book covers. The one thing that most people don’t know about me is that I am an author.
11) Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I feel very grateful that for the most part readers understand my sense of humor. I’m always surprised and grateful when I receive a positive review. I thought my book would mostly appeal to young women in their 20s or 30s. I was happily surprised by having a couple of men emailing me telling me they loved my book and can’t wait to read the next one. One man told me my book made him laugh and cry.
12) What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I love making people laugh more than anything else. I love hearing from readers that my book is making people laugh out loud.
The hardest part has been when people don’t understand my humor. I have been in a lot of situations where I had two choices: laugh or cry. I’ve chosen to laugh. I write my experiences from a purely personal standpoint. Compared to other travelers who worked abroad in NZ my experiences have been very unusual. I would highly recommend everyone goes to New Zealand to experience their own adventure.
13) Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Traveling alone and being celibate for a year was how Elizabeth Gilbert found her husband in Eat, Pray, Love. I probably took it too literally like an instructions manual, but it worked for me.
14) Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I plan to divide my books by the countries I’ve lived in. When I move to a new country the story begins there. My next book will be about attempting to settle in Scotland.
15) Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I don’t consider myself a representative of America and I don’t consider my book a representation of New Zealand. It’s my dairy, not a travel guide. Publishing my book was my way of transforming poison into medicine. I hope that it can help people that have had bad dating experiences or bad work experiences – make them laugh and not give up hope. I had good, bad and weird experiences in New Zealand and California. My experiences have turned me into a writer and I am extremely grateful for that. People that read it either seem to think it’s hilarious or horrifying and I respect all points of view. I hope my book Getting Rooted in New Zealand makes you laugh!
Craving change and lacking logic, at 26, Jamie, a cute and quirky Californian, impulsively move to New Zealand to avoid dating after reading that the country’s population has 100,000 fewer men. In her journal, she captures a hysterically honest look at herself, her past and her new wonderfully weird world filled with curious characters and slapstick situations in unbelievably bizarre jobs. It takes a zany jaunt to the end of the Earth and a serendipitous meeting with a fellow traveler before Jamie learns what it really means to get rooted.
Jamie Baywood grew up in Petaluma, California. In 2010, she made the most impulsive decision of her life by moving to New Zealand. Getting Rooted in New Zealand is her first book about her experiences living there. Jamie is now married and living happily ever after in the United Kingdom. She is working on her second book.
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