In a revealing interview for the BBC, JK Rowling has said that she has already written the last chapter of the final Harry Potter book, and that some of the boy wizard's adventures to come will make for distressing reading.
The billionaire author reveals that she has already decided the fate of all the major characters, and hints that some could be killed off. The programme, to go out tonight on BBC1, shows Rowling holding the final chapter of the series to the camera and saying "this is it, and I'm not opening it for obvious reasons."
Describing the chapter, she says, "this really wraps everything, it's the epilogue and I basically say what happens to everyone after they leave school, those who survive - because there are deaths, more deaths coming...There's at least one death that's going to be horrible to write."
On a lighter note, Rowling also promises some romance in the final three books. "There's more boy-girl stuff," she says. "They're 15 now, hormones working overtime. Harry has to ask some questions, that I hope the reader will think: 'well, why hasn't he asked this before?'"
The promise of teenage romance in future books is likely to further inflame the anger of those who argue that Rowling's bestsellers are already unsuitable for children for their portrayal of the supernatural. Members of the Christ Community Church, in Alamogordo, New Mexico, are planning a mass Potter book-burning for Sunday evening, claiming that the stories are an "abomination to God". According to the Church's pastor, Jack Brock, "Harry Potter books are going to destroy the lives of young people. These books encourage our youth to learn more about witches, warlocks, and sorcerers..."
Rowling has dismissed such criticisms, claiming: "I have met thousands of children and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, 'Ms Rowling, I'm so glad I've read these books because now I want to be a witch."
Guardian Unlimited (c) Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002