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Getting Rooted in New Zealand | Interview with Jamie Baywood

Coming from New Zealand, I’m always interested in what other people think of our beautiful country. So when Jamie Baywood contacted the Blogger’s Bookshelf team about her book, Getting Rooted in New Zealand, I leapt at the opportunity to read it, and then interview her about it. All the links to Jamie and her book are at the bottom.


Hi Jamie! It’s great to have you here. Could you just introduce yourself to BB readers?

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 an attempt to have some ‘me time’ I moved to New Zealand.

It was shockingly easy to relocate to New Zealand literally a few weeks after I made the decision. It only took a couple of weeks for my work visa to go through. I was 26, single, I quit my job, I moved out of a little cottage I was renting and put the few things I had at my mom’s house and brought a suitcase with me to New Zealand.

I’ve just finished reading your book, Getting Rooted in New Zealand. Could you tell us a little about it?

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 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 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 saved the emails that eventually became my book. 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.

It’s amazing that you’ve turned your own personal story and memories into a novel. I know a lot of us probably wouldn’t want to turn our personal thoughts into a book. Was it hard to do, in regards to sharing your story, your thoughts, and feelings, with an audience?

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.  Publishing my book 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.

My life is literally an open book, but Jamie Baywood is a pen name. I haven’t told my family or my 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.  Would you want your family to read your diary? I don’t want my relatives to read about how lonely and horny I was or to discuss it at the holidays around the dinner table.  It’s been an interesting dance trying to promote the book and attempting to stay anonymous.

In relation to the previous question, how much editing and revising did you have to do before it became that final draft?

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.

How did you go about getting it published?
I self-published through CreateSpace an Amazon company. Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available on the Amazon US and Amazon Europe sites. I would like to have the book translated into different languages.

I would like to have the book available to purchase in New Zealand and Australia. I’m in the process of trying to get it printed and distributed in New Zealand and Australia through, and Whitcoulls. It’s been a struggle to find a way to properly distribute the book to New Zealand and Australia.

It’s a very amusing story, and your writing style is very enjoyable to read. I’m often told that everything I write is exactly how I speak. Is that true for you?

I’ve always annoyed my mother being a bit of a smart ass and sarcastic. Reading my book would be similar to receiving emails from a friend living abroad. I didn’t decide on a specific writing style. It’s just how I honestly observed things and described them.

The story is about you and your adventures, and misadventures, in another country. I understand you’re now living the UK. Have you thought about writing another, similar book about your time here?

I’ve been living abroad for over three years. I lived in five countries; America, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and now England.   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 plan to move again internationally in 2014, I’m not sure where yet, maybe back to New Zealand.

Speaking of NZ, I know you didn’t have the best of times there, but would you like to go back?

I know my experiences in New Zealand are unusual, but to be completely honest it was a great 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.

Following my dream to live abroad by moving to New Zealand was absolutely liberating. New Zealand turned me into a writer. I have absolute gratitude for every experience and everyone I met. I had good, bad and weird experiences in New Zealand and California. Although I hope that I have learned from my mistakes, I wouldn’t change anything. My experiences have turned me into a writer and I am extremely grateful for that.  It taught me to trust myself and believe in myself.

New Zealand is such a beautiful country. Beaches, mountains, glaciers, lakes, forests, islands, New Zealand’s got it all. It has such freshness about it, like the islands just emerged from the sea. It feels like anything is possible in New Zealand. I also loved the quality of light in New Zealand. It was like looking through a polarized lenses, but more intense. Everything is so colourful and vibrant.

By the end of Getting Rooted in New Zealand, it was time for me to go, but I would be open to moving back there. I would like to go back to New Zealand and give it another try as a writer.

And just to wrap up, do you have any advice to writers out there who have been thinking or turning their own personal stories into novels?

Be yourself.


Thank you, Jamie, so much for letting me read your book; I really enjoyed it.
All you readers out there, do check out Getting Rooted in New Zealand and her links (see below) and if you’re in England, here’s a quick message from Jamie:

I am currently booking meet the author events at libraries and book clubs throughout England and Wales between October 2013 and June 2014. If you are living in the UK and would like me to come to your library or book club email me at All of my events are listed on my Facebook:

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

Jamie Baywood can be followed on the following sites:

Interview and post by Anjali
Image from Good Reads

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