World of Words: Andrew Hearn talks about all things Elvis

An Elvis historian and researcher, Andrew Hearn has written countless articles for Elvis publications and specialist music magazines around the world.

What prompted you to become a writer in the first place?

Over twenty years ago there was a huge gap in the British market for a really decent Elvis Presley publication. I simply spotted a great opportunity and started editing and distributing my magazine, which has now snowballed into a worldwide success.

How did you get your first opportunity?

I simply created it myself. In terms of the two books that I’ve written, they came about because of my magazine and the demand from its readers. My first book was a fairly easy task. The book, entitled Essential Elvis Interviews, contains my conversations with around 30 of the closest people around Elvis Presley. It includes first-time interviews with his private doctor and several girlfriends. It was a huge hit amongst the fans.

What’s the worst thing about being a writer?

Just finding the time. I have three young children and my wife has a very demanding job in the city which involves long hours. My job is to run the Elvis business, edit my magazine and make sure the children are looked after. I mainly work from home so it all fits in pretty well.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

With both my magazine, and my books, it’s seeing them in print. You spend so many months looking at a computer screen, so it’s fantastic to get the finish article from the printers in all its glossy glory.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the way my writing has kept Elvis Presley remembered positively. His image has taken a bashing over the years by tacky impersonators, but thanks to people like myself it’s now trendy to be into Elvis once again.

Can you name a book or play or poem that changed your life?

It won’t come as too much of a shock to know that I read Elvis biographies as a youngster. Collectively they all changed my life as I became a fan, and ultimately I was able to turn my hobby into my business and make a living from it. That would be a dream for most. That fact alone is somewhat life changing.

What do you think is the secret to being a good writer?

In my case things must be 100 per cent correct when it comes to dates and facts. Heavy research is the key in the Elvis business. Fans can be obsessive and they will correct you in a flash if you are not accurate in what you are printing. If you are not telling a true story, the reader will lose faith in your writing and you’ll not succeed. My longevity is due to my accuracy in telling the true Elvis story.

What are you reading at the moment?

I have just been delving into a new travel book specifically about the sights in America’s deep South. I travel to Memphis at least once a year to visit Graceland and to conduct research for my magazine, and I enjoy that part of the world immensely. By the way, my second book was actually a guide to over 140 Elvis related sights in Memphis called Follow Me to Tennessee. Several years ago during a trip (I’ve been 22 times now!). I became aware that fans saved hard to visit the USA and see where Elvis lived, and apart from a few other places, they’d really see very little of his hometown. So, I put together a book of the places where Elvis hung out, ate, recorded and even worshipped.

What are you working on next?

Although The Elvis Mag is a bi-monthly publication, it soon comes around. I’m currently working on a bumper issue that’ll be out after Christmas that celebrates what would’ve been Elvis’ 79th birthday on January 8th. Can you believe that?

Complete the sentence: It’s one for the money...

... two for even less money, and three for pretty much nothing. After my second book on Elvis came out I finally realised that I was definitely in it for the fun and not the cash. If you want to make yourself rich in this game you’ve got to pick a story that’s likely to be noticed by Hollywood. I’m usually writing about Hollywood, not for Hollywood. I do it because I’m a huge Elvis fan.