Carabine, Michelle. "As Happy as Harry in the Cafe Society," Evening News (Edinburgh), December 7, 1999

HARRY POTTER creator JK Rowling today said she still loved to write in Edinburgh's cafes despite her meteoric rise to fame.

Rowling penned much of her early Harry Potter work at Nicolson's in the Capital's Nicolson Street with daughter Jessica beside her in a pram.

The 34-year-old has complained in the past about the image of the single mum scribbling away in a cafe to keep away from her damp flat.

But in an interview, Rowling said that she still found her muse in Edinburgh 's cafes.

Asked about the future, the author said: "I want to finish the books and make them as good as I can. I am still living in Edinburgh because I love it and my daughter is very happy there.

"It also has good writing cafes, and I have now learned not to publicise where I am writing because of all the interest it creates.

I was a bit slow on the uptake with that one."

Rowling has just started reading her books to Jessica. "I started reading them to her a few months ago and she really loves them. She is currently asking for her bedroom to be decorated like Hogwarts, but I'm going to give her a few weeks to really make up her mind on that one."

Jessica, now six, attends her local primary school - and to her friends, Rowling is just another mum.

The best-selling author explained: "It was older children at her school who were a bit fazed when I walked into the playground - because they were reading the book in their class."

Since 1997, JK Rowling's books about Harry Potter, the trainee wizard, have sold more than 30 million copies, been translated into 28 languages, and earned GBP 14.5 million.

But the 34-year-old still seems to be in awe of her fame.

"It has so over-shot my wildest expectations that sometimes it is a little bit scary," she admitted.

"I certainly never expected the interest to be focused on me and that has not been a very comfortable experience.

"The summit of my ambition was handing my credit card to someone one day and them saying: 'Oh my God, you wrote my favourite book'."

Neither is she tempted to flog the Harry Potter phenomenon to death, still insisting that the number of books in the series is to be limited to the magically significant number seven.

"The only thing that I may do is a guide to the wider wizarding world and all the minor characters because I have all their histories."

Rowling has developed a close relationship with the fictitious Harry Potter, referring to prizes awarded for the books as things "we" have won.

By the time she completes her seventh book, she will have been writing about the trainee wizard's adventures for 13 years.

So what will life without Harry be like?

"It will be like someone died," she confessed. "There are things about the Harry phenomenon that I won't miss much but Harry himself and the writing . . . it is going to be like someone died."

But Rowling's writing career won't die with Harry. She said: "I get other ideas but I just scribble them down and shove them in the filing cabinet - Harry is a time-consuming project."

But when she has more time, she plans to develop these ideas, some of which are for children's books and others for adults.

In the meantime, Warner Bros has bought the rights to make a Harry Potter film and Rowling has already had a lot of input.

"Warner Bros have been amazing at letting me have my say and honestly I think I have had an unusual amount of input. I know my ideas are being listened to."

Copyright 1999 The Scotsman Publications Ltd.