JANEY BENNETT’s first novel, The Pale Surface of Things, published by Hopeace Press in 2007 (ISBN 978-0-9734007-2-4) was awarded seven national book-industry awards. (Awards List) Set on the Greek island of Crete, The Pale Surface of Things can be read as a fast-moving adventure or a thoughtful novel of redemption, setting an unaware young American man in the volatile world of a traditional Cretan village.
Janey was born in San Diego December 20, 1938, the daughter and only child of Lillian Wulff Fitzpatrick and Ward Fitzpatrick. Her mother taught English at Point Loma High School and then at San Diego City College. Their home was filled with friends involved in the arts. As a child, Janey grew up with their discussions about aesthetics and cultural history. Books were everywhere.
She graduated from Point Loma High School and UCLA, and did graduate work at Cal State Northridge. Much later, she completed a Master’s degree in Architecture History from Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. Her thesis advisor was Reyner Banham, author of Theory and Design in the First Machine Age and Los Angeles, the Architecture of Four Ecologies. He referred to himself as a gizmologist: he was interested in how everything worked. His interest in peripheral subjects enriched his writings, and that lesson was passed on to Janey as she broadened the scope of her master’s thesis on the Finnish architect, Erik Bryggman.
For that work, she studied Italian and translated a long article in academic Italian; worked with a Swedish native-speaker and translated a book in Swedish; and then wrote a 300-page original thesis on the Finnish master architect, Erik Bryggman. She had not thought of herself as a writer, but found that the deeper the research went in the Bryggman work, the more she enjoyed it.
The Museum of Finnish Architecture invited her to write a major essay on Erik Bryggman’s masterwork, the Resurrection Chapel in Turku, for the exhibition they mounted for his centenary. Her work for that essay was funded by grants from Fulbright, The Graham Foundation, Finlandia Foundation, and Finnair. The essay, titled “Sub Specie Aeternitatis,” appears in Erik Bryggman, Arkkitehti, Arkitekt, Architect, published in 1991 by the Museum of Finnish Architecture.
Janey has also assembled Resonances in Silence, a book project examining the ideas, both built and written, of the philosopher-architect, Juhani Pallasmaa. The book incorporates sketches, working drawings, graphics, and writings by Pallasmaa, with photographs of his built work, and the absolute minimum of text by Bennett. It is an exercise in communicating the way one architect’s mind works, a montage of ideas, a new kind of experiential book, designed to layer Pallasmaa’s ideas into the reader’s mind. This book is seeking a publisher or sponsoring institution.
Janey has written numerous articles on architecture in Finland and in the US for such publications as Architecture Magazine, Design Book Review, and Form Function Finland. The Journal of Taliesin Fellows published her survey of the built work of Mark Mills, a California architect/engineer who trained with Frank Lloyd Wright. She also served as music and theatre critic for Monterey area weekly papers, and edited and wrote for Monterey Peninsula Guide. During this time, she worked as a freelance proofreader for CTB McGraw-Hill and Brooks-Cole Publishing Companies. She also designed landscapes with horticulturist Al Graham, under the business name Water-Less Gardens.
After she moved to the Pacific Northwest, she began writing fiction. The Pale Surface of Things, her first novel, took seven years in the writing. During part of that time, she had the good fortune to be mentored by Carol Bly. She is now finishing her second novel, as yet untitled, tracing the recovery of a family in crisis, set in the Carmel Valley and Big Sur, and requiring extensive research into attachment disorder and the cultural history of Big Sur.
After college, her first job was with KPFK-FM, Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles, where she was possibly the first woman radio announcer on the West Coast. She also produced programs, edited tapes, and was a recording engineer. Eighteen years later, she returned to radio when she moved to the Monterey Peninsula and announced for KBOQ-FM, a classical station. That vocal experience has served her well when she performs readings from her novel.
In 1996 she took her Cambridge CELTA teaching certificate to Thailand to teach English and literacy to Buddhist nuns. The certificate was meant for instructing children in private schools, and her students had never been in school before they ordained as nuns. She had to invent teaching methods, which involved a lot of chalkboard drawings, handmade flash-cards, and much leaping around the room. She worked there for five winters, riding the bus four hours a day to get to the convent from Chiang Mai. She loved teaching there.
Her other pursuits include the equestrian discipline of dressage. She studied with American Olympian Hilda Gurney and British three-time-Olympic-gold-medalist Richard Meade. Her mare, May Wine, was awarded a US Dressage Federation national bronze medal in 1981. She no longer rides, but still teaches dressage.
As a child, she studied cello with Edward Janowsky and Nino Marcelli, but gave it up when it conflicted with the full-time business of being an adolescent. She returned to the cello forty years later, and now plays in small ensembles here and there. Six years ago she founded the Hornby Island Cellothon, a summer workshop for adult amateur cellists. She is an enthusiastic member of the Vancouver Cello Club.