Welcome to my newsletter. My name is Alex Johnson and I’m a writer. I’ve worked as a professional journalist since 1991 for newspapers and magazines in the UK and Spain in a variety of roles from ‘the new guy who gets the news editor’s breakfast’ to the editor’s chair. I’ve also worked for lots of charities and blogged continuously since 2006. If you’re really interested, there’s more detail about me than anybody except my parents could really want at my personal website thealexjohnson.co.uk.

I still write for magazines but over the last dozen years I’ve concentrated on writing books on a wide variety of subjects including music, art, sheds, garden offices, and food. In particular, I’ve concentrated on books about bookish subjects, from improbable libraries to unusual bookshelves, book towns to revealing book lists, writers’ pets to writers’ rooms and how to give your child a lifelong love of reading. There are 15 in the back catalogue so far and a 16th out in April. I have no plans to stop.

The Writing Hut

While I’m not a ‘publishing expert’, I have had a lot of experience over the last decade or so in the book trade and these newsletters are where I pass on some of my thoughts about the whole process. It’s very much focused on the nuts-and-bolts of how it all works and I hope it helps you understand what I do all day. And if you’re a writer that some of it is of some use.

Free vs paid for

The regular newsletters will always be free. But for those who want more there will also be a section where you can pay a little something for something extra and unusual. The first of these was the online chapter-by-chapter publication of my book Going Native, written in 2002 but as yet unpublished. Here’s what it’s all about:

Going Native follows my personal quest to get to grips with Spanish from clueless beginner, through an addiction to cheesy South American soap operas, to the day I realised I could nearly understand what Spaniards were saying on the radio.

As well as essential reading for anybody struggling to learn a second language, this unique journey will satisfy all those interested in Spain who have driven over lemons and want to delve deeper into what really makes the country tick and the words which keep it ticking. From the urban loneliness of losing his language to the dramatic birth of my first child in a Madrid hospital run by nuns, as my Spanish improves and my comfort foods mutate (from Marmite on toast to deep fried batter dipped in thick hot chocolate), I slowly realise that I am becoming an ‘inbetween’ person, one who still tells waiters the food was fine when it was terrible but then swears about it in a different language.

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A behind the scenes look at the nuts and bolts of the writing life


I write non-fiction books on a range of subjects (art, sheds, food, music, and bookish topics). I'm also a journalist and contribute regular columns to the Idler and Fine Books magazines. I worked at the Independent newspaper 2007 2022.