EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) – Harry Potter’s life hangs in the balance. Millions of fans are holding their breath. Meanwhile, his creator is baking a cake – and keeping her secret.
On Saturday, readers around the globe will learn the schoolboy wizard’s fate with the publication of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series. Will Harry defeat his evil nemesis, Lord Voldemort, and restore order to the wizarding world? Will he die in the attempt, as many fans fear – and as Rowling, an expert narrative tease, has hinted?
“Harry’s story comes to a definite end in book seven,” is all she will say a few days before publication, serving up tea and home-baked sponge cake in her comfortable Edinburgh house. Writing the final words of the saga felt “like a bereavement.”
That sounds ominously final. So have we really seen the last of the of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?
“Because the world is so big, there would be room to do other stuff,” Rowling says carefully. “I am not planning to do that, but I’m not going to say I’m never going to do it.”
Rowling (her name rhymes with bowling, rather than howling) has wildly mixed emotions at leaving behind the character she conjured up during a train journey across England in 1990: a neglected, bespectacled orphan who learns on his 11th birthday that he is a wizard.
She’s enjoying the absence of pressure from publishers and fans clamoring for the next installment in Harry’s adventures. And she’s reveling in the chance to focus on normal life with her husband and three children. But after finishing the last book, “I felt terrible for a week.”
“The first two days in particular, it was like a bereavement, even though I was pleased with the book. And then after a week that cloud lifted and I felt quite lighthearted, quite liberated,” she says.
It has been an extraordinary journey. When Rowling created Harry Potter, she was a struggling single mother, writing in cafes to save on the heating bill at home. Now, at 41, she is the richest woman in Britain.
Her first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” was published in 1997, with a print run of less than 1,000.
By the time the book appeared in the United States in 1998 – as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” – Harry was on his way to becoming a publishing phenomenon.
The six Potter books have sold some 325 million copies in 64 languages, including Latin and Ancient Greek. “Deathly Hallows” has an initial print run of 12 million in the United States alone; more than 2 million copies have been ordered from Internet retailer Amazon.
Rowling predicts that some of Harry’s fans will dislike “Deathly Hallows.” But she is proud of it. “The final book is what it was always supposed to be, and so I feel very at peace with that fact,” she says.
As for the future, she says she has no plans. “I can never write anything as popular again,” she said. “Lightning does not strike in the same place twice.”