If there’s an "it" girl in publishing right now, it’s Amanda Knox.
As soon as she was cleared of murder charges in Italy on Monday, she became the most sought-after interview, with ABC, CNN, CBS, NBC and others clamoring to get the first lucrative sit-down with the American exchange student.
Almost as quickly, publishing insiders began jockeying for position for a possible – some say inevitable – book deal.
There’s plenty to write about. A salacious story of sex, drugs, and murder abroad, Ms. Knox’s case has attracted international fascination. The American exchange student was acquitted Monday in a Perugia, Italy, court of the murder of Meredith Kercher, her British roommate, bringing an end to a four-year case that whipped up a media frenzy in its final months. In the case, and in breathless media reports about it, Knox “was variously portrayed as a lying, manipulative temptress or an innocent abroad who became unwittingly caught up in a gross miscarriage of justice,” writes the Monitor’s Nick Squires.
Already, at least 10 books on the market deal with Knox’s case, including “Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox,” “The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox,” “The Monster of Perugia: The Framing of Amanda Knox,” and "Murder in Italy: The Shocking Slaying of a British Student, the Accused American Girl, and an International Scandal" among others.
But if Knox pens her own account, she will have a chance to tell her side of the story. Perhaps more pressingly, a book deal will help the Knox family pay off the more than $1 million they’ve reportedly spent on her legal fees. (According to news reports, friends have emptied their pockets, relatives have taken out second mortgages and an ad-hoc group, Friends of Amanda, has raised some $80,000 to help fund travel costs.
A six-figure book deal would go a long way toward paying legal fees. And Knox may even have most of the book written already. In her prison diary, leaked by the press years ago, Knox kept a meticulous record of events since the day she was arrested. In it, she recorded a poignant and dramatic account of the trial and her own personal trials, including repeated professions of her innocence. “I am innocent so I will be free. Free. Free. Free. Freedom. I will have freedom,” she reportedly wrote in one entry. Another states, "Do you know me? Open your eyes and see that when it is said I am an angel, or I am a devil, or I am a lost girl, recognize that what is really lost is: the truth!"
She also chronicled her prison routine ("I do exercises, sing, write, read, sleep, eat, drink and think. I can go to the library. I have eight television channels I can watch in the cell, I have a bath and a lamp for reading"), and documented the seven men she had slept with and the 35 suitors who wrote to her in the first weeks after her arrest.
At this point, all signs point to a Knox memoir in the future, but there are some doubts whether there will be an appetite for it. This past summer, another young woman who had attracted media attention and was found innocent of murder could have gotten as much as $750,000 for a book deal. But “the public had little sympathy for [Casey] Anthony, whose young daughter disappeared under mysterious circumstances and was later found dead,” wrote The LA Time’s Jacket Copy. In a Jacket Copy poll, 80 percent of respondents said they weren’t interested in a book from Ms. Anthony.
Will Amanda Knox face the same fate?
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.