Most of my working life has been about finding excuses to ask questions and play with words. After an English degree at Oxford, I worked my way through a PhD in philosophy, teaching first in a secondary school and then in higher and further education.
But I soon felt the need to get out more. In 1998, an internship at the New Statesman and a summer teaching English in a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank set the course for a new career in journalism. I wrote extensively on social affairs and public policy for newspapers and magazines such as the Guardian and Public Finance, also working for periods as staff reporter and editor.
For reasons still not entirely clear to me, the Middle East continued to beckon. I returned periodically to the Palestinian Territories, first as a journalist and then as Middle East communications manager for Christian Aid.
After a while, post-war Lebanon started to look like an attractively quiet for a writing project about the human stories of the Middle East … My first book, Paradise Divided, explored the mix of social, political and religious forces that make up this complex country. With Lebanon in trouble again, I found myself invited to talk about it on BBC radio programmes such as ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ and ‘Excess Baggage’.
In recent years I’ve been content to explore my native land in pursuit of the ultimate nosy question: the state of Britain’s soul. My second book, The Secret Life of God, is a kind of spiritual investigation into twenty-first century Britain. It chronicles how, in an officially secular age, people are finding new ways of believing and belonging.
As a writer, I’m stimulated by the challenges of the digital revolution, particularly the opportunities for new forms of writing and ways of reaching readers. As a writer of the kind of non-fiction that traditionally takes years to produce, I’m delighted at the birth of the midform, a publication longer than an article but shorter than a book.
I’m also conscious that, while books are more popular than ever, their creators are having an increasingly tough time. Having served on several committees of the National Union of Journalists, I’m now on the management committee of the Society of Authors. As a ‘hybrid author’, I’m also pleased to be a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
I’m currently talking with writers in my region about the possibility of starting a new group to share knowledge, concerns and tips about publishing. If you’re a writer in the Bath and Bristol area, I’d love to hear from you.
You can get in touch with me via: alexklaushofer[AT]gmail.com