Sunday, January 12, 2014

Author Spotlight: Jamie Baywood

I'm very excited to be hosting the lovely Jamie Baywood today!

Jamie Baywood grew up in Petaluma, California. In 2010, she made the most impulsive decision of her life by moving to New Zealand. Getting Rooted in New Zealand is her first book about her experiences living there. Jamie is now married and living happily ever after in the United Kingdom. She is working on her second book. 

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Get "Getting Rooted in New Zealand on Amazon in ebook or paperback here

Hi Jamie! *Hands a plate of biscuits* Welcome to To Another World! Can you tell me and my readers a little about you and your book, Getting Rooted in New Zealand? 

I moved to New Zealand because I read in a tour book that New Zealand’s population has 100,000 fewer men than women. I thought it would be the perfect place for me to escape the crazy dating scene in California. Although I intended to have a solo adventure I ended up meeting my husband a Scottish man in 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 now England.

Living in New Zealand must have been awesome! What was the best thing about it? 

Moving to New Zealand was the best decision I ever made. I’ve been living in the UK for the past couple of years and we’re seriously considering moving back to New Zealand or to Australia in 2014. 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. I saw rainbows almost every day in New Zealand.
I lived in Ponsonby and Grey Lynn, artsy suburbs just outside of the Auckland city centre. I loved having brunch at all of the cute cafes and living a five minute walk from the beach. Auckland, New Zealand was a great place to dine out. I miss eating chicken katsu at Renkon a fabulous Japanese place, the amazing French restaurant Le Garde-Manger on upper Queen Street, and Ponsonby Food Court in Auckland. I also loved to go wine tasting on Waiheke Island, a little island that’s just a thirty minute ferry ride from Auckland city centre. The South Island of New Zealand is amazing. Visiting Mount Cook you could really imagine Frodo and the other Hobbits there.

Why did you decide to write about your time in New Zealand? 

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.
My education is in fine arts. 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. While I was in New Zealand I meet 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. 
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.

You now live in the UK! Do you like it as much as the US and NZ? (Be honest. We all know we're not very exotic)

We’ve actually lived in two different countries in the United Kingdom after leaving New Zealand; Scotland and now England. After New Zealand, we moved to Scotland, got married in a castle and ended up living across the street from Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh. Scotland is a sincerely magical place. There are so many castles in Scotland. Scotland has amazing architecture, beautiful mountains, lochs, beaches and sweet natured people. The landscape of the Highlands is very similar to the South Island of New Zealand. I love hearing the Scottish accent everywhere you go. After living in Edinburgh, I can understand how J. K. Rowling was inspired writing Harry Potter. I lived above a used bookshop that looked like where Harry would have bought his school supplies.

For unwanted and complicated reasons we had to move to England last September. It was devastating to have to move out of Edinburgh to Sheffield, England last year for my husband graduate school. We will have to live here until summer 2014.

Rather than being displaced to a country I didn’t want to move to, I decided to be displaced with the goal of publishing. I’ve just completed a MA in Design. Designing, publishing and marketing my book was my dissertation project.
I’ve never lived this far inland before. It makes me feel claustrophobic to be so far away from the ocean. I desperately miss the ocean and being warm at the beach. I really miss the warm, friendly nature of the people in the South Pacific. If money and visas weren’t an issue, (which they very much are) I’d love to go summer to summer between Edinburgh, Scotland and Auckland, New Zealand.

What's the weirdest thing that has happened to you in either the UK or NZ? 

In the UK, I haven’t been able to find work.  I’ve been doing a lot of volunteering in Sheffield. Last week, I was volunteering at a museum with someone dressed as an elf and a Santa giving gifts to kids. In our down time, I asked the elf if she was a student and what she enjoyed studying. Her favorite class is anatomy and she said it’s really relaxing to just be in the lab with a scalpel. As Santa waved at small children, the elf continued to tell me that her dream job would be the person that dissects and preps cadavers for anatomy students. The elf really enjoys cutting up dead bodies.  

While in New Zealand, the visa I was on only allowed me to work temporary positions. I worked in a basement, with ex-cons, next to a perverted mime and with a girl that wore her dead dog’s collar around her neck. All of the jobs were mundane office work, but the cubicles were filled with curious characters.
Recently on Twitter, the characters in Getting Rooted in New Zealand are described as, “Wicked. Lots of heroes and villains. It’s a story you can read again and again- it’s laugh out loud shocking in parts and cringe worthy, some office peeps are monsters!” by Colin Mathura-Jeffree, a male model and judge for the TV show New Zealand’s Next Top Model. Colin is one of my favorite characters that I meet in New Zealand.
­­­I had good, bad and weird experiences in New Zealand. I’m grateful for all the people I encountered, heroes and villains, the experiences I had turned me into a writer.

Now, I ask all the authors I host here at TAW this question: which 3 items would you take on a desert island, and they can't be things to help you off (because I know you creative types)?

1. Sunscreen – I am very, very pale.
2. Razor – I’m vain and don’t like body hair.
3. An unlimited supply of Chipotle Tabasco sauce. I’m addicted to that stuff. It will make whatever I’m catching for food taste better.

What's your favourite animal? 


What is your favourite book?

May I Ask You Something? by Cyan Corwine.

What's your favourite song/artist/band?

Santigold –  L.E.S. Artistes
There are some lines in this song that really apply to how I felt when I first arrived in New Zealand:
What I’m searching for
I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up
What am I here for
I left my home to disappear is all
I’m here for myself

A few quick this or thats!

Twitter or Facebook? 
Writing or reading? 
Chocolate cake or ice cream? 
Ice cream.

Thank you so much Jamie for this interview :) 

Charli x


  1. Ooh, I hadn't heard about Getting Rooted in New Zealand before this interview so thanks for bringing it to my attention! *adds to extremely long wishlist*

    I have relatives in New Zealand and I've always wanted to go. You've definitely made me want to go even more! I love how you were an "accidental author" xD Great interview, both of you!


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