As part of my ‘behind the scenes’ look at self-published authors, I’m delighted to welcome Jamie Baywood – author of ‘Getting Rooted in New Zealand’. Jamie chats about how her own life experience provided the inspiration for her novel and the learning curve that is self-publishing. A Californian girl who went to New Zealand to meet her Scottish husband? I’ll let her explain 🙂
It was always my dream to live abroad when I was growing up in California. I had bad dating experiences in California and read in a New Zealand tour book that the country’s population at 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. Although I intended to have a solo adventure I ended up meeting my husband, a Scottish man, 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. 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.
One of the first people I meet was Colin Mathura-Jeffree from New Zealand’s Next Top Model. I had no idea who he was or that he was on TV when I meet him. He is friends with my former flatmate. We had a steep staircase that I kept falling down. Colin taught me to walk like a model so I wouldn’t fall down the stairs.
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 traveling 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 New Zealand than it does in the States.
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.”
Last year I completed an MA in Design. Designing, publishing and marketing my book was my dissertation project. Self-publishing is one person taking on all of the responsibilities typically held by teams of people in traditional publishing companies. It has been a steep learning curve. 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.
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 2013.
I constantly make myself notes. Last summer in Wales, I was scribbling stories on the backs of maps and Google directions as a passenger in the car. I also send myself text messages or emails riding in trains or buses. It might not look like I’m writing a book if one was to observe me, but I am constantly watching, listening and thinking about writing.
I designed my book cover myself. The girl with the suitcase is a drawing of me. The striped dress and red hat was my first outfit I bought when I moved to New Zealand. The birds are New Zealand native birds like the kiwi and fan tail. The city is Auckland and the tower is New Zealand’s Skytower. The sky in the back ground and the water are pieces of a watercolor painting I did of the New Zealand coastline.
I love making people laugh more than anything else. I feel very grateful when readers understand my sense of humor. I plan to divide my books by the countries I’ve lived in. My next book will be about attempting to settle in Scotland.
You can check out Jamie’s novel ‘Getting Rooted in New Zealand‘ on Amazon.