|One of Jenny Randles' 50-some books|
thoughts of someone I consider pretty smart and sane: the great British UFOlogist Jenny Randles.
Jenny has been kind enough to submit to an interview for my J. Allen Hynek bio, but it's kind of a slo-mo interview. I emailed her a list of questions a few days ago, and she is emailing me back responses to the questions, one at a time, as it fits her schedule.
I have no complaints with this whatsoever, as it allows me to savor each individual response at my leisure, which is a nice way to work. All my projects should be this leisurely!
Of course, as I do with all my research and interviews, I am saving all the best stuff for the book, but there's no reason I can't grace you with a tidbit or two while I'm feeling generous.
My first question to Jenny was this:
How did Dr. Hynek's work become known to you, and what about his work appealed to you?Jenny's reply starts with a very charming reminiscence of her early days:
"I come from rural Lancashire in the Pennine Hills of northern England. Somewhere that I had no idea in the 1960s when I was growing up is a 'Window Area' - or UFO hot spot. Relatives told me about things that they saw whilst walking over the moors and so I was constantly on the look out whilst I was up there but never saw anything myself. However, I was taking science (physics) in high school and so very intrigued to understand what these UFOs might be, especially as this was the decade of manned space flight and our eyes were on the Moon.
"This interest peaked when a UFO appeared over the local police station in Bacup and several patrol officers on the moors reported encountering it. I was determined to find out more, and, being even then a bit of a writer and a very avid reader sought out what I could about the subject in the local libraries in the city of Manchester (where my family had by then moved)."
As a result of this early effort at researching UFOs, Jenny started reading "Flying Saucer Review" and through that publication became aware of the work of Dr. Hynek:
"This introduced me to Allen Hynek and I saw at once a kindred spirit. Someone who believed in the ways of science, had a passionate interest in this phenomenon and yet was not openly endorsing any theory. He was simply aware that the job of a scientist at this stage was to collate evidence, look for patterns in the data and cross match with possibilities."
Jenny worked as a teacher early in her career, and she shared a very funny story from that part of her life:
"I did do some teaching for a little while before becoming a full time writer and managed to use the natural curiosity that children had about UFOs with practical experiments that saw us investigating a local flap and letting the kids use scientific methods to resolve it. Again citing Hynek as my model for this approach.
"Of course, I got into a fair but of trouble over this. It was not at all the done thing in British schools in the mid 1970s and I was politely advised never to do it again. That is what made me decide not to make a career out of teaching and take the opportunity provided to me by fortune to write books instead. At least that way I was in control of my own rules about what was and was not appropriate.
"I must admit I smiled a lot when a decade later, as an established author, I was invited back to do seminars in schools about UFOs and what we could learn from them!"
What a delight!
I promise I'll be sharing more of Jenny's wit and wisdom as her replies trickle in...