Courthouse Shootings Hostage Writing Book

The woman who convinced a suspected courtroom killer to surrender during a seven-hour hostage ordeal at her suburban apartment is writing a memoir.

Ashley Smith's (search) "Unlikely Angel" will be co-published this fall by the Zondervan and William Morrow divisions of HarperCollins (search). Zondervan is also the publisher for Rick Warren's million-selling "The Purpose-Driven Life," from which Smith says she read passages to courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols.

Authorities said Nichols went on a shooting rampage March 11 at a courthouse where he was being tried for rape, killing four people -- including a judge. He escaped and took Smith, 26, hostage at herDuluth (search) apartment, but let her go unharmed hours later. Smith's 911 call led police to Nichols, who soon surrendered.

She credited Warren's book with soothing Nichols' anger.

"I'm uncomfortable becoming the focus of this event, which left so many families in tragedy," she said in a news release. "But after prayerful consideration, I believe that God is calling me to use this opportunity to not only turn my own life around but also to inspire others to do that, too."

After the hostage ordeal, Smith was bombarded with offers for books, movies, speaking engagements and even a few oddball marriage proposals. Following months of negotiations, she struck a deal with HarperCollins.

The financial details were not announced, but Smith pledged to donate an undisclosed portion of the book's proceeds to a memorial fund in honor of the shooting victims.