I recently had a chance to interview Jamie Baywood, author of Getting Rooted in New Zealand. Ms. Baywood is now working on her second book in the United Kingdom. Below is a transcript of our conversation.
1. How did you end up starting your book, Getting Rooted in New Zealand? Where did the idea for this story come from?
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.
2. Was it difficult to write the story? Did you know where you were going with the narrative beforehand or did you have to write the book to find out?
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. 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. Some of the names of the characters and organizations, but not all, have been changed to preserve privacy. In February 2013, I organized my stories into a cohesive narrative. It went through several rounds of editing and then I published in April.
3. How did writing this book change you as a writer? As a person?
I am just now starting to go on book talk tours throughout the United Kingdom and being interviewed. Since publication, I’ve mostly been working on networking and marketing. 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. It’s been an interesting dance trying to promote the book and attempting to stay anonymous.
I really feel travel is the best teacher. I didn’t know a soul in New Zealand before I went there. Within two weeks of my plane landing in New Zealand, I found a place to live and a job. I don’t know anywhere else in the world you can do that. I’ve been living abroad since 2010. It’s made me resilient, self-reliant, fearless and adaptable. I’ve really learned to trust my instincts and believe in myself.
4. You traveled to New Zealand a few years ago for personal reasons. How similar or different were your experiences as a traveler and as a writer in New Zealand? Did one inform the other or did you simply take geographical features from New Zealand and add them into a completely unrelated story of your protagonist?
I know my experiences in New Zealand are unusual, but to be completely honest it was an improvement from my life in California. Surprisingly, I seem to be getting the best feedback from people living in New Zealand both Kiwis and non-Kiwis. I have received very kind emails from New Zealanders saying they enjoyed reading my book, they are looking forward to reading the next one and some encourage me to move back to New Zealand.
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 New Zealand my experiences have been very unusual. I would highly recommend everyone goes to New Zealand to experience their own adventure.
I think readers need to remember this is the dairy of a young, hormonal and confused twenty-something, this is not a travel guide to New Zealand. I am sincerely appreciative of everyone that has read Getting Rooted in New Zealand. I’m absolutely grateful that readers are enjoying the book and reviewing it positively. I love making people laugh. I hope you enjoy Getting Rooted in New Zealand!
5. What would you like readers to take from reading your story? What will they know or feel after reading Getting Rooted that they didn’t know before?
Publishing my book Getting Rooted in New Zealand 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.
If things aren’t working out for you at home with relationships, instead of staying at home crying that you’re single, consider yourself free. You are free to do whatever you want. You don’t have to move internationally to have an adventure. Your time being single is a precious time to develop and focus on yourself. Enjoy your freedom.
6. Tell me more about the circumstances of your writing the story. Did you write every day? Where did you write? What was your method to writing?
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.