Interview: Jamie Baywood - author of 'Getting Rooted in New Zealand'

by - January 19, 2014

Since I started my blog I have been given so many opportunities to meet different writers all over the world. I love meeting new people, and on this occasion I have had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Jamie Baywood. Her debut novel Getting Rooted in New Zealand was published in April 2013, and she is now working on her second novel. Jamie was kind enough to answer some questions about herself and her debut novel and I am excited to share them with you.


1. Is writing something you have always wanted to do?

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.

My education is in fine arts, I didn’t write until I moved to New Zealand. 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.

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.

2. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a hairdresser and honestly thought I would be good at it. I gave my little sister a really bad haircut a few days before picture day. I don’t think she will ever truly forgive me.

3. What made you pick New Zealand as your destination of choice?

I had bad dating experiences in California and read in a New Zealand tour book that the country’s population at 100,000 fewer men than women. I wanted to have some me time and an adventure. New Zealand seemed like a good place to do so. Although I intended to have a solo adventure I ended up meeting my husband in New Zealand.

4. Your novel, Getting Rooted in New Zealand, comes from your real life experience of moving to New Zealand. Is the whole book a true story or have some experiences been created for the purpose of the book?

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 truth is 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. My book is 100% true. These are 100% my experiences. I emailed most of the characters in the book and asked for their permission to include stories about them and to use their names. My husband is the only character in the book that vetoed certain stories. I married a shy man!

5. Had you decided to write the novel before your move, or only after having the experience?

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 in the Auckland’s Basement Theatre about my weird jobs.

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.

6. How long did it take you to write Getting Rooted in New Zealand?

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. The book went through several rounds of editing and then I published in April. Publishing my story was easily the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. I barely slept the first half of the year worrying what people would think of my book.

7. Who is your favourite author to read?

Cyan Corwine.

8. Is there a particular author you feel inspired your writing style?

Reading my book would be similar experience 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 don’t know how to write anything other than my truth.

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. I also enjoyed reading Area Code 212 by Tama Janowitz, The Buddha, Geoff and Me by Edward Canfor-Dumas, and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins.

9. What was the hardest thing about writing the novel?

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 or husband’s 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.

10. What was the best thing about writing the novel?

I love making people laugh more than anything else. I love hearing from readers that my book is making people laugh out loud. 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 travellers 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.

Thank you so much to Jamie for taking the time to answer some questions for me. Check out her novel Getting Rooted in New Zealand - I would love to hear what you think of it once you've read it!


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.

Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon

Jamie Baywood can be followed on the following sites:

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