Reading Reviews

Getting Rooted in New Zealand

A few weeks back a beautiful woman named Jamie Baywood contacted me about her book called Getting Rooted in New Zealand. I was so thrilled to read her book and even more excited for the opportunity to interview her after I read it. She sent me a copy and although some family stuff took over my time for a while, when I did get to read her book, I tore through it in one night. Oh my goodness. This girl can write. Also, she is one of the funniest people in the entire world.

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood

Her book is a memoir about her time in New Zealand. Jamie moved to New Zealand on a work visa to escape the dating scene she found herself in and to find some adventure. New Zealand has about 100,000 fewer men in the population than women, perfect for a girl needing a change and needing to avoid creepy men. (Side note, she found the creepiest people in California. Her stories about her past relationships are so phenomenally awkward.) Through her introspection about her past and mulling through her present in New Zealand, Jamie is able to find more of herself and finally get rooted in New Zealand, in more ways than one. (The best part of this book is the double meaning of the word rooted. So. Much. Yes.)

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood.
Look at how stunning she is. Prettiest ever.

She is an amazing writer. Her style is so conversational and open. She’s incredibly honest and giving and you sincerely feel that she is a friend of yours telling you about her time living abroad. When she meets crazy men, you laugh and cringe with her. When she has a horrific day at work with her boss who is a one woman tornado, you get mad with her. When she meets a sexy Scottish guy and starts loving on him, you cheer for her. (PS Jamie… I was 10000% serious when I asked if Grant has any single friends. I love Scots. Hook a girl up!)

After finishing her book I sent her a few interview questions that I’d love to share with you. Here is our interview. Enjoy getting to know Jamie Baywood a bit more; I sure did.

Did you know when you moved to New Zealand that you were going to write a book about your experiences?

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.

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood

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.  I had good, bad and weird experiences in New Zealand and California. My experiences have turned me into a writer and I am extremely grateful for that.  People that read it either seem to think it’s hilarious or horrifying and I respect all points of view.  I hope my book Getting Rooted in New Zealand makes you laugh!

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 have changed some the names, but not all of individuals and organizations to preserve privacy. 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.

When did you start writing? What got you started?

I had the opportunity to write and perform for Thomas Sainsbury the most prolific playwright in New Zealand. I performed a monologue about my jobs in the Basement Theatre in Auckland.  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 around her neck.”

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

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

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

I think readers need to remember this is the dairy of a young, hormonal and confused twenty-something, this is not a travel guide to New Zealand.  I am sincerely appreciative of everyone that has read Getting Rooted in New Zealand. I’m absolutely grateful that readers are enjoying the book and reviewing it positively. I love making people laugh. I hope you enjoy Getting Rooted in New Zealand!

From the very beginning it is clear that you are very dedicated to your Buddhist faith. How did you find that faith and what hooked you to it?

In addition to being an accidental author, I am also an accidental Buddhist. I never planned to become either. I was introduced to the Buddhist practice that involves chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo through a friend. I was very reluctant to go to the Buddhist meeting with him; I thought it would be really weird. Much to my surprise hearing the chanting made me feel at home on a cellular level. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and at times depression, chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo calms me to the core.

Over the next few years, through a lot of chanting, going to Buddhist study meetings and reading books like The Buddha in Your Mirror I really learned to love, value and respect myself. For the first time in my life I felt really happy and the happiness came from within. The thing that I like about Buddhism is it is about taking 100% responsibility for your own life. The word karma translates into action. You can change your karma by changing your actions. Essentially, stop doing the same thing and expecting a different result. For me, needed to overcome my relationship karma by stopping dating guys that I knew were wrong for me.

Five years later I’ve now lived and practiced this Buddhism in five different countries: California, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and now England. The practice is in 192 countries around the world and everywhere I go I have a built in community. Five years ago, I never thought I would get married. I’ve now been married for nearly two years and married the son of a knight in a castle in Scotland. My life has transformed in many ways other than my relationship karma, but I have literally chanted my way from trailer parks to castles.

You mention that New Zealand has one hundred thousand fewer men than women. Coming off of a few heartbreaks myself this idea to go to New Zealand is sounding pretty good to me! Was that the only reason you chose New Zealand?

I know it sounds like a crazy reason, but I needed a serious change in my life and felt I needed to leave the country to do so. I started dating my first boyfriend when we were fourteen and the relationship ended when I was twenty-three.  I had never dumped someone and didn’t have the life skills to do so. Between ages twenty-three and twenty-six, I would only date guys I knew I could dump easily. Not surprisingly, only dating guys with clear and abundant flaws that were easy to dump, created a lot of chaos and drama in my life.
When I was twenty-four, I had my second boyfriend who I call Hank, in real life his named rhymed with Hank. Hank had a drug dealer that sincerely went by the name Stank. I took Hank to rehab, after that I had a string of crazy suitors and ex’s.  If you had Hank and Stank in your life, what other choice do you have, but to leave the country and become an author?
By the age of twenty-six, I was actually much happier being alone than dating, but I was completely bombarded by guys trying to date me. I read in a New Zealand tour book that the country’s population has 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.
I found a work abroad company that helped young Americans get work visas in New Zealand and Australia. I had been watching a lot of Flight of the Conchords at the time and enjoyed Bret and Jemaine’s sense of humor and accents.
(That Flight of the Conchords reference is further proof of how awesome Jamie is. Love this girl.)
I loved the story of the double meaning of the phrase “getting rooted” and after reading what that meant in New Zealand, the title of the book took on an entirely new meaning. Why did you decide to use that as your title?
My title is another way of laughing at myself. 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.” I had meant get rooted in the America way to settle down, lay down roots. He started choking on his toothbrush and asked if I was hitting on him. He explained to me what rooting meant in New Zealand.
I decided on Getting Rooted in New Zealand because it’s funny and the book is about rooting – both meanings of the word.
Do you keep in contact with any of the people you met in New Zealand?
 
I do keep in touch with most of the people I met in New Zealand. Some of my dearest friends in the world are in New Zealand. Although it is technically not home to me or my Scottish husband, it feels like home to us as a couple because that is where we met. We have been feeling homesick for New Zealand and really miss our friends there.
Have you been back to visit New Zealand since you left with Grant? (Side note, Grant is this perfect Scottish man she met in New Zealand. Not to spoil the book but… I love love. 🙂 Mostly Scottish love.)
 
We haven’t been able to go back to New Zealand or anywhere by plane. Although I was married in January 2012 in the UK, my marriage visa was not approved by the UK Border Agency until September 2012. During this time, I was not allowed to work, study, collect benefits or even leave because they had both my passport and my husband’s passport.
I am currently on a visa in the UK called an Extension to Stay as the Spouse of a UK Citizen. This visa will expire in September 2014. We are deciding now if we should go through another round of visas for me to stay in the UK or if we want to try living somewhere else in the world.  We are seriously considering moving back to New Zealand next year.
I can only speak from my own experience attempting to settle as a spouse of a UK Citizen.  I have personally found the level of bureaucracy in the UK makes the possible feel impossible.
This is one the main reasons I decided to go ahead and publish Getting Rooted in New Zealand.  Due to my visa restrictions with the UK Border Agency, I’ve had no rights to work in the UK, but they couldn’t stop me from publishing my book.
How was the wedding!? How is Grant? How is Scotland? How is your life now?

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood.
Sorry that they are the most attractive
couple in history.

I love being married to him. We got married in a little castle in his home town in Scotland at the beginning of year 2012. My husband wore a kilt. I was hoping for a white winter wedding, but we ended up getting sunshine in Scotland during the winter. It was a magical day; we had a rainbow over a loch, bunny rabbits hoping by us, birds chirping and a full moon reflecting on the loch at night.

We still can’t understand each other if we aren’t in the same room and there are always new words or Scottish sayings I’m learning.  I hope I never stop swooning over his accent. Being married to a Scottish man is the best. I love the Scottish accent and all the words he uses. I love hearing wee in every sentence. He calls me wee fluffy bunny. I married the sweetest man. He is also incredibly kind, handsome and humble. 

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood.
This. Is. Perfect.
Time to move to New Zealand
to find my Scot.

Grant is very busy working on a MA in Landscape Architecture. This gives me a lot of time to work on promoting my book and attending book talks throughout the UK.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. We had more culture shock going from Scotland to England than anywhere else.

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 is your second book going to be about? When can we expect to get our hands on it?
 

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 publish it late 2014.

****

I would highly recommend this book to all of you! It was such a fun read and I loved getting to know Jamie through her book and through our emails. She’s so cool and I cannot wait until her next book release. I want to follow her travels for as long as she writes them. 🙂

I would also like to thank Jamie for the opportunity to read her book and interview her. This was the best! Thanks again, Jamie!

Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1482601907

Jamie Baywood can be followed on the following sites:
Facebook.com/jamiebaywood
Twitter.com/jamiebaywood
Pinterest.com/jamiebaywood
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7069448.Jamie_Baywood
amazon.com/author/jamiebaywood

Happy reading, lovelies!

4 Comments

  • Shelby

    love this!!! craziest thing of my life, i just found her on twitter! what the weirdest coincidence! haha

    Reply
  • Abbey

    Oooh I will have to get this. I may be moving to NZ in the summer! Sounds like a fun read! 🙂

    Reply
  • ivette

    nice new design on the blog btw…I almost thought I had clicked into another one… anyway…cool post here..I am now hooked on this book and haven't even read it.. this lady seems super fun and in a way..I think she did what I've always wished to…to write a book of my new life.
    I sort of went through a deeply sad and depressed phase with my former lover…and it led me to the point of fleeing away..I left it all, I quit it all..I packed my bags and moved to the beach…I remember even thinking about new zealand! ha!…but it is too far and expensive… although that lack of testosterone makes it look way more attractive to me…anyway… I'm living in a wonderful beach now..in the Caribbean.. south of México…and I plan to write a book…hope I do so one day….and I'm looking this one on amazon too…thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Jamie Baywood

    Wow Ivette! You should write a book of your own 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story!

    Reply

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