M.A. Cassata knows me from the mid-90s, when we worked for the same company, in Paramus, N.J. I was a “men’s magazine” editor and she was a rock mag editor. She’d interviewed people like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and Patti Smith. Some of them considered Mary Anne their friend. So I showed her the Nowhere Man manuscript years before it was published. We’ve been friends ever since, and even ended up with the same agent, Jim Fitzgerald, who sold Nowhere Man after it had languished 18 years in unpublished limbo.
On the 15th anniversary of the book’s publication, on John Lennon’s 75th birthday, as I release the long-awaited ebook edition, I was happy to answer Mary Anne’s questions. Some were rather challenging. —Robert Rosen
By M.A. Cassata
The obvious first—what took Nowhere Man so long to be published as an ebook? For years fans of the print version have been asking for an ebook.
The publisher chose not to put it out as an ebook. For almost 10 years, Nowhere Man has been pirated to death. Now there’s an ebook. At the least, people will finally have an alternative to the pirated editions.
For those who may not know the backstory of Nowhere Man or how the first edition, in 2000, first came to be published, can you briefly explain?
Under extraordinary circumstances that I explain in the book, I was given access to John Lennon’s diaries. I wrote a book about it, but nobody would publish it. The book kicked around, unpublished, for 18 years. Then, through a friend of a friend, I met an agent, Jim Fitzgerald, and he sold it to Soft Skull Press. As I describe it in the new intro, they were “a tiny independent operating out of a tenement basement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.” But they were really good with PR and the book took off… amidst much turmoil.
What do you hope to achieve with the ebook version (since it is the most updated version)? Maybe a whole new generation of younger readers?
I’d warmly welcome a new generation reading Nowhere Man on their devices. The ebook edition has revelations that I couldn’t put in the earlier editions, like John’s programmed sex dream about Barbara Walters and his sexual relationship with his masseuse. I’ve got bonus chapters; I get into the conspiracy theories. I’ve corrected mistakes. And if you already bought the print edition on Amazon, you can download the ebook for 99 cents.
Lennon said in 1965 (with the Beatles fame and all) that he didn’t want people to follow him or see him as a Christ-like figure. When you were writing Nowhere Man, did you think Lennon might have had a new message to pass onto his flock of followers?
Yeah, though I doubt it was intentional: Fame will only exacerbate your problems. But it sure is better to be rich and have problems than to be poor. That was the thing about John. He loved money. But he knew it was bad to love money and he tried to transcend it in a spiritual way. That was one of John’s great struggles: He had so much power and money, but he fought against the corruption. He wanted to be pure like Gandhi.
Even today the lure of Lennon still holds an incredible fascination and devotion for so many people. Why is that and how does Nowhere Man fit into that idea?
The story of Lennon and the Beatles is like a Bible story, with John as Jesus. They had that kind of power. Nowhere Man is The Book of John.
Do you think there is more to be written about Lennon that hasn’t surfaced yet?
Yes, absolutely. There’s more stuff in his diaries that hasn’t come out, more details about his relationship with Paul that puts John’s character into sharper focus.
How did you decide which five bonus chapters to include? Bonus Chapter 5 is pretty intense. It was a surprise to me.
Yes, Bonus Chapter 5: “An Open Letter to G. Barry Golson.” He’s a former editor of Playboy. He did all he could to suppress the story I told in Nowhere Man. It’s my response to what he did.
Bonus Chapter 1 is the paperback version of “John Lennon’s Diaries,” which includes excerpts from my diaries that I didn’t have when I wrote that chapter for the Soft Skull edition. I started the ebook with the Soft Skull version because it’s more immediate, and I wanted to recapture the feeling of that time.
Bonus Chapter 2 is “Aftermath,” from the paperback edition. It’s an update on various people in the book.
Bonus Chapters 3 and 4, “The Unfinished Life of John Lennon” and “A Question of Conspiracy,” are the original English versions of stories I wrote for Proceso, a Mexico City newsweekly.
Where can readers download the book other than Amazon?
Right now the Nowhere Man ebook edition is exclusive on Amazon. You can download it here:
As I said: It’s 99 cents for anybody who’s bought the print edition on Amazon.
It will be everywhere else early in 2016.
And you can learn more about John Lennon on my John Lennon page: