I'm doing something a little out of my norm today. I'm interviewing the author of a book I haven't read. Did any of you ever see the short-lived ABC TV series Men in Trees with Anne Heche? Well, Jamie Baywood's story is the polar opposite. Jamie wasn't driven to the land of men (aka Alaska) after a bad break up. She fled to New Zealand because of the 100,000 fewer men. Getting Rooted in New Zealand is her life changing, eye opening, and sometimes side splitting real life account of her big escape to the other side of the globe. And here's my chat with Jamie Baywood.
What made you choose non-fiction?
I consider myself an accidental author. I didn’t go to New Zealand with the intentions of writing a book about my experiences there. 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.
Have you always taken to writing to express yourself?
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 was very lucky in New Zealand to meet a lot of talented people. 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.” No one believed I was telling the truth.
What is your writing routine?
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.
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.
Now that you have your first book out, do you see the world as future tales you must share?
I’ve been living abroad for over three years. I lived in five countries; America, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and now England. We’ll move again internationally in 2014, I’m not sure where yet. I plan to divide my books by the countries I've lived in. My next book will be about attempting to settle in Scotland.
I read that your follow up book will be about settling into Scotland with your husband. What other places have you daydreamed about living?
I want to go so many places. The thought of living in once place forever seems foreign now and makes me feel claustrophobic. It would be fun to be a tourist again rather than dissembling and reassembling my life and taking all my belongings with me when I move internationally. I’d love to be able to tour around Europe.
I currently have to live in the center of England. I desperately miss the ocean and being warm at the beach. I really miss the warm, friendly nature of the people in the South Pacific. I had the chance to visit Australia briefly after I lived in New Zealand. I would move to Australia or back to New Zealand in a heartbeat.
I've been to Costa Rica and Peru on short holidays; I would love to see more of South America and Central America. I absolutely want to go to Yucatán peninsula in Mexico and see the Mayan ruins.
As strange as it may sound, although I’m American I haven’t been to many States. I’d like to see more of my own country.
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.
Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon
Jamie Baywood can be followed on the following sites: