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Jeff Apter

answers the Usual Questions

Australian non-fiction writer Jeff Apter has written 10 biographies, and has contributed to publications including Rolling Stone (where he spent five years as music editor), the Sydney Morning Herald, The Bulletin and GQ. Jeff is the music contributor to Australian Vogue.

Photograph, author Jeff Apter; courtesy his web site; 179x122

Jeff Apter

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

Not really, although it has deluded me into thinking that people may actually read my books as much for the author as the subject.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

I recently gave a talk at a library and as I walked in, I thought to myself: 'What if no-one shows? Do I just pretend I came to borrow a book and go home?' Fortunately, that wasn't the case.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

There's a lot of great books and writers to whom I aspire: people like Peter Guralnick, who wrote Careless Love and Last Train to Memphis, the two great studies of Elvis Presley, or Philip Norman, who wrote John Lennon: A Life. But I'm just as likely to return to books and writers that aren't really connected to non-fiction, which is what I write.

These include Richard Ford, whose book The Sportswriter is virtually peerless, and such writers as David Sedaris and Jonathan Franzen. Film-wise I'm a sucker for anything that Woody Allen directed from, say, Take the Money and Run up to Broadway Danny Rose. I also think there's a renaissance going on in American TV, via such shows as The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Dexter and so on. Leaves Hollywood for dead and reduces locally produced TV to the joke that, sadly, it has become.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

J D Salinger, just to check that he really is dead.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Kevin Rudd, because I'd like to stay awake if I was stuck in a lift.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

Some pictures of my wife and kids, nicely chilled vodka and my Bob Dylan album collection should see me through.

Book cover; Together Again by Jeff Apter; 142x202

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

Writing biographies is like tackling a huge jigsaw puzzle. During a few of my books there's been a light bulb moment where the pieces drop into some kind of order, both in my head and on the page. That's pretty satisfying.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

See the above answer. And holding the printed work in my hand, knowing that it's relatively close to what I intended to achieve, can be pretty fulfilling, too. Upbeat reviews don't hurt, either, likewise a few sales.

submitted by Jeff Apter

15 March, 2010

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Just the facts:
Born: Sydney, NSW
Resides: Wollongong, NSW

Web site:


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