NEW YORK (AP) — Amanda Knox has a book deal.
The young exchange student whose conviction in Italy and eventual acquittal on murder charges made headlines worldwide has an agreement with HarperCollins to tell her story. The 24-year-old Seattle resident, imprisoned for four years in Perugia, Italy, has not publicly discussed her ordeal beyond a brief expression of gratitude upon her release last October.
“Knox will give a full and unflinching account of the events that led to her arrest in Perugia and her struggles with the complexities of the Italian judicial system,” HarperCollins said in a statement Thursday.
“Aided by journals she kept during her imprisonment, Knox will talk about her harrowing experience at the hands of the Italian police and later prison guards and inmates. She will reveal never before-told details surrounding her case, and describe how she used her inner strength and strong family ties to cope with the most challenging time of her young life.”
The book, currently untitled, is tentatively scheduled for early 2013.
“Many accounts have been written of the Amanda Knox case, and countless writers and reporters have speculated on what role, if any, was played by Knox in that tragic and terrifying sequence of events,” HarperCollins publisher Jonathan Burnham said in a statement.
“No one has yet heard Amanda Knox’s own account of what happened, and this book will give Knox an opportunity to tell the story in full detail, for the first time. It will be the story of a crime and a trial, but also a moving account of a young woman’s struggle to cope with a nightmarish ordeal that placed her at the center of a media storm, and led to her imprisonment.”
Financial terms were not disclosed, but an official with knowledge of the negotiations said the deal was worth $4 million for world rights. The official was not authorized to discuss the negotiations and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Knox was represented by Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose other clients include President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. Some 20 publishers were interested and Knox met with seven, all of whom submitted bids during a recent auction.
Burnham said that Knox, who studied creative writing, would work with a collaborator and that her book will cover her life in Perugia leading up to the murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher, along with an account of the events surrounding the murder. Knox’s editor will be Claire Wachtel, whose other authors have included crime novelist Dennis Lehane, journalist Cokie Roberts and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.
“Claire has a great track record of working with high-profile figures,” Burnham said. “She’s a very sensitive, responsive editor who I think can work with someone like Amanda, who’s new to the experience.”
Publishers in recent years have shied from controversial defendants, but Burnham said he was deeply impressed by Knox when he met with her.
“The experience of actually sitting down in a room and talking for an hour, an hour and a half with Amanda made me realize this was a very mature, intelligent woman who had been through an extraordinary experience,” Burnham said.
“She’ll write a very thoughtful, reflective and serious book about what happened. And that moves this book away from the world of tabloids, the lurid side, to something more compelling and, in a way, more longstanding.”
Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman, the Italian appeals court judge who freed Knox, broadly criticized the investigation and conviction of Knox. In a 143-page document released in December, Hellman wrote that she had been pressed to make statements against her own interest and strongly questioned the reliability of a pair of key witnesses.
Knox’s legal issues are not over. Earlier this week, Italian prosecutors asked the country’s highest criminal court to reinstate the murder convictions of Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Prosecutor Giovanni Galati said he is “very convinced” that Sollecito and Knox were responsible for the Nov. 1, 2007, stabbing death of Kercher, who shared an apartment with Knox in Perugia.
Kercher was found in a pool of blood. The appeals court in October said the guilty verdicts against the pair were not corroborated by any evidence, and that the court hadn’t proven they were in the house when Kercher was killed.
A third defendant, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, was convicted in a separate trial of sexually assaulting and stabbing Kercher. His 16-year sentence, reduced in appeal from an initial 30 years, was upheld by Italy’s highest court in 2010.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Knox recently filed an appeal of her slander conviction in Italy. The same court that overturned her murder conviction upheld the charges for slander — for falsely accusing bar owner Diya “Patrick” Lumumba of involvement in the slaying.
Lumumba was freed after two weeks in prison for lack of evidence.
Knox later said she was “manipulated” during her lengthy police interrogation. An Italian judge set Knox’s sentence for slander at three years, less than the time she spent in prison. That meant she could leave Italy and return to Seattle.