Today we speak to Jamie Baywood. 

Jamie BaywoodQ) Tell us something about yourself.

I’m from California. In my mid-twenties, I had bad dating experiences in California and a dream to live abroad. I read in a tour book that New Zealand’s population had 100,000 fewer men than women. In the attempt to have some ‘me time’ I moved to New Zealand.  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 England.

Q) Tell us about your latest book. Why do you think the readers will like it?

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.  I decided to organize the stories into a book and publish in the hopes to make others laugh too.

The feedback I’ve been getting is that readers enjoy getting a sneak peek into someone else’s world and the book is making them laugh out loud.

Q) How did you come up with the title of the book?

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 in New Zealand than it does in the States.

Q) What kind of research did you do for your book?

I didn’t do research for the writing of the book. I just wrote my honest observations. I researched publishing, marketing and book design prior to publishing. I designed my book cover.

Q) Which of the characters in your book are your favourites and why?

Many of the characters in the book are my real life friends that I met while living in New Zealand. I still keep in touch with most of them.

Q) How did you formulate this character? Is it based on someone you know?

All of my characters are based on real people. Some of the names of characters, but not all have been changed to preserve privacy.

Q) Every author has a distinct writing style. How would you describe your style and how do you think you came to form it?

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.

Q) How long have you been working on this book and what inspired you to write it?

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.

Q) When did you start writing and when did you realize you want to become an author?

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.

Q) Who are some of the authors you like and how do you think their work inspired you?

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.

Q) What do you think is the most difficult part about writing and publishing a novel?

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 humour. 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 NZ my experiences have been very unusual. I would highly recommend everyone goes to New Zealand to experience their own adventure.

Q) What is some advice you will like to give to people trying to write and get their stories published?

Believe in yourself. No one else is going to do it for you.

Q) Tell us something about what you are working on or about some of your future projects.

My next book will be about attempting to settle down in Scotland. I plan to divide my books by the countries I’ve lived in.

Q) From amongst all the novels ever published if you had to write any one, which one would it be and why?

I am the only person that can tell my own story, and I feel grateful for that.

Q) If you had to convince someone to read your book in 5 lines what would they be?

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. I’ve been told by readers that Getting Rooted in New Zealand is making people laugh out loud


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