The deal for Monica Lewinsky's book, when it finally happened, was brokered in London, with a writer famous for introducing a little-known side of another high-profile woman to the reading public under controversial circumstances: Princess Diana.

The author is Andrew Morton, author of the bestselling 1994 Diana: My True Story, and it is his London publisher, the small but enterprising Michael O'Mara Books, that put together an agreement for him to talk exclusively to Lewinsky about her life, her relationship with the president and how the scandal has affected her.

The book, described as "an authorized biography," will be called Monica's Story; the U.S. publisher will be St. Martin's Press, which bought North American rights for a figure that is basically in the upper six figures but that, according to SMP president Sally Richardson, could edge up into seven figures with various bestseller escalators. Richardson and editor-in-chief Bob Wallace spent several days the week of November 9 hammering out the deal, after it was clear that Monica and Andrew had hit it off and wanted to work together.

Morton has only just begun work on the book, and no publication date is set so far, though Richardson says she would love to bring it out as close as possible to a planned TV interview with Lewinsky by Barbara Walters on 20/20, which has been spoken of as a possibility for next February.

What will the book say that we don't already know? According to O'Mara, "The real Monica Lewinsky is a very different person from the one you read about in the press, and Andrew Morton is the ideal person to redress the balance." He predicted the book would be "a worldwide bestseller," though the jury is obviously out on whether the American public -- or the British, for that matter -- are surfeited by now with the thoughts and doings of the former White House intern. Some big publishers, notably Random House and Simon &Schuster, publicly scoffed at the notion of a Lewinsky book.

The deal O'Mara put together for Lewinsky represented, he told PW, "an enormous sacrifice -- she could have got several times more, but after she met Andrew she wanted very much to work with him." He introduced them in her lawyer's offices in New York, and they have already spent, he estimated, more than 15 hours together; Morton has already begun interviewing his subject for the book and has written enough to supply O'Mara with draft material to show to other publishers around the world, beginning this week. O'Mara said he has already been deluged with calls and expects that when all rights have been sold, "everyone will come out of this very nicely."

The idea of looking back on the next century as if it was already over seems like an obviously intriguing one, but as with all great ideas, someone had to have it first. In this case, it was BOMC's Greg Tobin and Leslie Pockell who got the notion, inspired by Martin Gilbert's History of the 20th Century, about to come out as a Morrow hardcover and Avon paperback. It was Avon's Lou Aronica who picked up on the concept: The History of the 21st Century, based on the best bets by the world's finest scientific minds as to what the coming century will be like. But who should write it? Aronica thought of Gentry Lee, a polymath who has worked with Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan and NASA, and whom he had published at Bantam. A call to Lee's agent, Russell Galen at Scovill, Chichak &Galen, ascertained that the writer would be very interested; however, Lee anticipated ambitious international travel and interview plans for the project and felt he couldn't do the book for under half a million. Avon didn't want to go that high, so Scovill, working through Danny Baror of Baror International, set out to find additional support abroad. Baror came up with another six-figure bid, from HarperCollins UK, that brought the figure up to the required level. Aronica hopes to publish as early as 2001.

A long-out-of-print book from a much-optioned author and a book from a tiny Vermont publisher are both beneficiaries of big-star movies that will soon be upon us. Harrison Ford is currently filming Warren Adler's Random Hearts, about a policeman and a congresswoman. The book, published in 1984 by Macmillan and out of print for 10 years, went through 15 years of Hollywood options before production finally began this fall under Sydney Pollack's direction. News of the movie spurred much interest in Frankfurt, and the author's agent, Sandy Blanton at Peter Lampack, has put together foreign deals totaling more than $150,000 -- with a U.S. tie-in paperback and a U.K. edition still to come. Meanwhile, the new Robin Williams vehicle from Universal, Patch Adams, M.D., is based on the book Gesundheit!, authored by the movie's subject, which offers Adams's view of the importance of humor in treating patients. It is published by Healing Arts Press of Rochester, Vt., which has released a trade paper edition calling attention to the movie title.

In the beginning was Naked Came the Stranger. Then Putnam published Naked Came the Manatee. Why not, thought Warner's Rob McMahon, create a serial comic novel around a subject that is often the butt of jokes by those into defiling sacred institutions: golf? Les Standiford, who did a chapter in Manatee, was, McMahon knew, a golf nut, so he asked him, through his agent, Scott Waxman, to gather a group of writers who could have at the game, each writing a chapter. Already lined up is the unlikely combination of Jim Hall, James Crumley, Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry, with more to come, a total of about 10. Their probable title: A Putt at the End of the World. Tentative pub date: Father's Day, 2000.