John Eppel was born in Lydenburg, South Africa. He moved to Colleen Bawn, a small mining town in southern Zimbabwe, at the age of four. He was educated at Milton High School in Bulawayo, and later attended the University of Natal in South Africa. He married at the age of 34 and has three children. His wife, Shari, is a poet and human rights activist. Eppel teaches English at Christian Brothers College, Bulawayo.
He has published over ten books, one of which has been translated into French (The giraffe man). He was awarded the Ingrid Jonker Prize for his first poetry book, "Spoils of War" and the MNet Prize in 1994 for his Novel, D G G Berrys the Great North Road.
His works are studied in universities across South Africa.