Walker, Andrew. "Edinburgh Author is Elated as America goes Potty over Potter," The Scotsman, October 29, 1998

CHILDREN in the United States have found a new hero. Harry Potter, created by Joanne Rowling, the Edinburgh-based author, has taken the US by storm and is set to sweep to the top of best-seller lists.

Rowling's first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, has become the second most popular children's book, according to Amazon, the world's biggest internet bookseller, just weeks after its publication. Bookshops have sold out of copies and Scholastic, its publisher, has just finished a third print run.

Rowling, who writes under the name J K Rowling, said she was overwhelmed by the welcome she - and her fictitious companion - received during her first US book tour.

The author revealed that some children, who cannot wait for next year's US publication of the sequel, the Chamber of Secrets, are ordering the book from British shops, where it is already on sale.

Ms Rowling, a single mother who began writing in Edinburgh cafes during her spare time after the break-up of her marriage, said the enthusiasm for Harry Potter in the US left her speechless.

"It was fantastic, the best experience of my life and if I could do it all again tomorrow, I would," she said.

"I lost count of the number of children who told me they had sent away to British bookshops and buying the book on the internet to get the sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. They said they could not wait until it came out in America in a year's time.

"Perhaps it was stupid of me to think American kids would be any different to Scottish children, but their reaction was very similar. When I did public readings, they even all laughed in the same places as British youngsters."

Ms Rowling's ten-day tour included five cities - Denver, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle.

Arthur Levine, her American editor, said he was amazed how the US had welcomed Harry Potter and the author.

He said: "Her personal story is a real-life version of the American dream and people realise that Joanne has persevered and has come out a winner. If it hadn't been a brilliant story with a great character, America would never have embraced Harry Potter the way it has."

More than 200,000 copies of Rowling's first two books have been sold in the UK to date, while the film rights have been bought by Warner Brothers.

Bloomsbury, the British publisher, brought out a special edition of Rowling's first novel with a cover deliberately aimed at adults after it emerged parents were secretly reading their children's editions.

Copyright 1998 The Scotsman Publications Ltd.