Today I have author Jaime Baywood on my blog discussing her debut book, Getting Rooted in New Zealand.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Savannah, Georgia, but raised in a small town in northern California. For over three years, I’ve been disassembling and reassembling my life by moving to different countries. I’ve lived in five countries; America, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and now England. Next year I plan to move again internationally. I’m not sure where yet, but I hope it feels like home.
When did you first consider yourself 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.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
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.
What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
I love making people laugh more than anything else. I love hearing from readers that my book is making people laugh out loud. 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.
The main criticism I get about my book is “it’s not a representation of the entire country of New Zealand.” 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.
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.
Please tell us about your current release.
Getting Rooted in New Zealand is a funny travel memoir about my time living in New Zealand from 2010 to 2011.
What inspired you to write this book?
While living in New Zealand, 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. Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. 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.
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.
Did you base any of your characters on real people?
All of the characters are based on real people. Some of the names of individuals and organizations, but not all, have been changed to preserve privacy.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
Some of my closest friends that I met while living in New Zealand are described in the book. I miss them terribly.
There also were characters that were challenging to deal with in real life. They will be obvious if you read the book. I hope they have found inner peace.
If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?
I plan to divide my books by the countries I’ve lived in. My next book will be about attempting to settle in Scotland.
If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
It would be fun to be Grant for a day and see how he sees me.
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
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.
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.
About the Author
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.
You can purchase Getting Rooted in New Zealand on Amazon.