"Brace yourself, readers: Harry Potter will discover girls," Associated Press, 27 March 2000

LONDON (AP) - Author J.K. Rowling said Monday that her beloved character Harry Potter will start to discover the magic charms of girls as his literary adventures continue.

"Last time you met him, he was 13," Rowling said at a news conference at the British Library.

"He's 14 now and he's started to realize girls are quite interesting," she said. "I tend to think that if someone is sufficiently engaged in one of the books, he's not going to be too disappointed if, at some point, his hero holds hands with a little girl."

Rowling added that while she would never tackle such issues as hard drugs or teen-age pregnancies in a children's book, she also would not completely shy away from adult themes in the fourth Potter volume, which will be published simultaneously in Britain and the United States on July 8.

"I've said all along there will be death. And yes, you see a death in book four," she said, declining to be more specific.

Rowling confirmed that plans for a movie based on the first Potter book are going ahead, though a director has not yet been named to replace Steven Spielberg, who bowed out.

"If Warner Bros. do what they say they are going to do, then I think we are looking at a very faithful adaptation," she said.

She added that while the role of Harry himself had yet to be cast, she had met a "physically perfect Harry" while visiting Northern Ireland.

"All his classmates had been apparently saying the same thing to him, but I don't know whether he can act and a Northern Ireland accent might be a bit of a problem, but we could coach him," she said.

Sales of Rowling's first three books have passed the 30 million mark worldwide, having been translated in 35 languages in more than 200 countries.

She vowed to turn her talents to writing adult books one day.

"There's no way I'm ever going to be able to write anything as popular as this again," she said, referring to the Potter series. "My comfort is that I never meant to write anything as popular as this."