Thursday, January 9, 2014

Interviewing Jamie Baywood [Getting Rooted in New Zealand]

A couple of months ago (or maybe last month), I read a blog highlighting Jamie Baywood, author of Getting Rooted in New Zealand and thought to myself OMGOSH she looks super cool and I need to get that book.

Maybe she saw my comment on the blog [I wish I remembered which blog it was], but a few days later she reached out to me! I was more than delighted to interview her - although I do have that aversion to interviews thanks to being a journalist...I know, it makes no sense. Today, I want to share my interview with you and encourage you to check out her book!!

Raewyn: What inspired you to write your book?Jamie: 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.

R:What is your favorite anecdote you included?
J: Here is one for Christmas:
I watched the Christmas Monologues written and directed by Thomas Sainsbury. Roberto Nascimento was once again my favorite performance, playing a perverted Santa.
Thomas Sainsbury asked me to write and perform a monologue for him in his upcoming play, The Foreign Monologues. I’ve never ever done anything like that before. He seemed amused by my manic behavior and giggling description of the shitty temp jobs I’ve been doing since arriving in New Zealand.
Whenever I’m in his proximity, I’m so nervous I can’t stop laughing or talking. I can’t prevent myself from telling him every dirty little secret I have. He smiles and looks at me closely, as if examining me with his green eyes that seem to go through me. I can’t tell if he is amused or horrified; there seems to be a mix of attraction and repulsion chemistry coming from him. Sometimes he stares so closely that I think he’s about to kiss me; other times he looks like he wants to put duct tape over my mouth.

After describing working in a basement that smelled like rotten cabbage and being told by my boss, “You don’t need to pretend to be nice, you will never get a raise,” Tom asked, “Has anyone ever told you you’re funny?”
I told my grandma that the most prolific playwright in New Zealand wants me to write and perform a monologue for him. My grandma’s response was, “Well, your family certainly likes to laugh at you. If you tell him about your ex-boyfriends, he will be sure to laugh his head off.”
Thanks for the encouragement, Grandma.

R: How did you narrow down which parts to include?
J: 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!

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. 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.

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. 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.

R: Did you change names in the book?
J: 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. I have changed some the names, but not all of individuals and organizations to preserve privacy.

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.

R: What advice do you have for aspiring book writers?
J: “No matter how wonderful our dreams, how noble our ideals, or how high our hopes, ultimately we
need courage to make them a reality. Without action, it’s as if they never existed.” – Ikeda

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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Check out one of our featured Warrior Queens:


  1. Love getting to know different authors. I will totally be checking this book out. Adding it on goodreads now :)

  2. Thank you very much!


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