Interviews

#AuthorInterview : Jamie Baywood

Is this your first book?

Yes, Getting Rooted in New Zealand is my first book. I moved to New Zealand because I read in a tour book that New Zealand’s population has 100,000 fewer men than women. I thought it would be the perfect place for me to escape the crazy dating scene in California. For the past three years, I’ve been disassembling and reassembling my life by moving to different countries. I’ve lived in five countries now; America, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and now England.

How did you know you wanted to become a writer?

I had the opportunity to write and perform for Thomas Sainsbury the most prolific playwright in New Zealand. I performed a monologue about my jobs in the Basement Theatre in Auckland. The funny thing about that experience was Tom kept me separated from the other performers until it was time to perform. I was under the impression that all the performers were foreigners giving their experiences in New Zealand. All of the other performers were professional actors telling stories that weren’t their own. At first I was mortified, but the audience seemed to enjoy my “performance,” laughing their way through my monologue. After the shows we would go out and mingle with the audience. People would ask me how long I had been acting. I would tell them, “I wasn’t acting; I have to go to work tomorrow and sit next to the girl wearing her dead dog’s collar around her neck.”

How long did it take you to write this 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.

What is your writing process?

I didn’t go to New Zealand with the intentions of writing a book about my experiences there. I didn’t start keeping a diary or writing until I moved to New Zealand. I wrote to keep in touch with friends and family. I saved the emails that eventually became my book. I consider myself an accidental author. I had funny experiences that I had trouble believing were true. I wrote the stories down to stay sane. I wrote situations down that were happening around me and shared them with friends. The stories made people laugh so I decided to organize the stories into a book and publish in the hopes to make others laugh too.

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.

Would you consider your book biographical or fiction?

My book is 100% true. These are 100% my experiences. I have changed some the names, but not all of individuals and organizations to preserve privacy.

How did you decide what to add to your book and what to leave out?

Reading my book would be similar to receiving emails from a friend living abroad. I didn’t really come up with the distinct writing style. It’s just how I honestly observed things and described them.

I only know how to write my truth. My truth tends to be stranger than fiction. It would be impossible to write down every single thing that happen to me in New Zealand for over a year and it probably wouldn’t be interesting to read.

Although I intended to have a solo adventure I ended up meeting my husband in New Zealand. My writing was one of the things that initially attracted my husband to me when we first met. He has been very supportive and encouraging of me publishing. I tried my best to respect his privacy during the process and he vetoed a few stories about him from the book that made him blush.

Can you give us a quick description?

Craving change and lacking logic, at 26, Jamie, a cute and quirky Californian, impulsively moves 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.

How did you decided on New Zealand from all the other places you could have gone?

As an American citizen there are actually very few places in the world you can get a work visa and just show up. If you are an American under thirty you can a work visa in Australia and if you are an American under thirty-five you can get a work visa in New Zealand.

What did you like best about New Zealand?

Following my dream to live abroad by moving to New Zealand was absolutely liberating. New Zealand turned me into a writer. I have absolute gratitude for every experience and everyone I met. It taught me to trust myself and believe in myself. New Zealand is such a beautiful country. Beaches, mountains, glaciers, lakes, forests, islands, New Zealand’s got it all. It has such freshness about it, like the islands just emerged from the sea. It feels like anything is possible in New Zealand. I also loved the quality of light in New Zealand. It was like looking through a polarized lenses, but more intense. Everything is so colourful and vibrant.

By the end of Getting Rooted in New Zealand, it was time for me to go, but I would be open to moving back there.

Are you working on another book?

I plan to divide my books by the countries I’ve lived in. My next book will be about traveling through the South Island of New Zealand, Australia, and California and attempting to settle down in Scotland.

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