Congressman-elect writing Elizabeth Smart's memoir

Published: Friday, Nov. 23 2012 4:34 p.m. MST

Elizabeth Smart speaks on the south steps of the state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Nov. 14, 2011. Utah Congressman-elect Chris Stewart is now writing her memoir.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Ten years after her kidnapping, Elizabeth Smart is preparing her story of being held captive by a homeless street preacher, her improbable rescue after nine months, and how she advocated for children after the ordeal.

St. Martin's Press bought the rights to the memoir from the now 25-year-old senior at Brigham Young University. Smart married a fellow Mormon missionary, Matthew Gilmour, in February.

The account is being written by Utah Congressman-elect Chris Stewart, who has authored books with religious and patriotic themes. He was elected in November to serve in the 2nd Congressional District, replacing Jim Matheson who was re-elected but switched to the newly-formed 4th Congressional District.

Stewart said Friday that Smart has made a surprising recovery from the brutal experience at the hands of her captor.

"She has taken a professional outlook on this and is able to talk in an impressive way about these things frankly," Stewart said, adding that parts of her book would receive "appropriate" but not "salacious" treatment.

"She's not shying away from this story," he said.

Smart has said she waited for the March 2011 sentencing of Brian David Mitchell before collaborating on the telling of her story, which has been in the works for nearly a year.

Mitchell, a onetime itinerant street preacher, was convicted of Smart's kidnapping and sexual assault. He is serving two life sentences at a federal prison in Arizona. He snatched the then-14-year-old Smart from her Salt Lake bedroom at knifepoint on June 5, 2002.

The book won't just be the story of Smart's captivity but also will depict how she organized the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and brought more attention and law enforcement techniques to the cases of missing and abused children, said her publicist Christopher Thomas.

"She started the foundation to get her message across, and book was another way to do it," Thomas said.

It will be the fourth book about the kidnapping that caused a national sensation.

The first was "Held Captive," a quick treatment published months after police captured Smart walking along a busy Sandy street with Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee, who is serving a 15-year sentence.

Then came her parents' bestseller, "Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope."

A more revealing account was "Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation," by Deseret News photographer Tom Smart — the girl's uncle — and News columnist Lee Benson.

Their book chronicled the police and FBI investigation that initially ignored the eyewitness account of Elizabeth Smart's 9-year-old sister, who was able to identify the abductor as a handyman who had worked at the family's home.

The book also delved into Mitchell's disturbing religious beliefs.

"We never talked to Elizabeth about our book," Tom Smart said. "We did not want to tell her story. We want her to tell her story."

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