Pottermaniacs to face first Christmas without Harry

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Harry Potter creator JK Rowling wept copiously when she finished the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, released on July 21.

19 December 2007

London (dpa) Harry Potter creator JK Rowling wept copiously when she finished the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, released on July 21.

When she finished "one chapter near the end I absolutely howled, it had been planned so long," she told the BBC's Jonathan Ross.

"I was in a hotel room on my own, I was sobbing my heart out, I downed half a bottle of champagne from the mini-bar in one and went home with mascara all over my face, that was really tough," she said.

With the completed series of seven Harry Potter books selling nearly 400 million copies and the film series grossing 3.5 billion dollars, it is hardly surprising that Rowling was not alone in her grief.

"There's a huge feeling of loss," says bookseller Lyn Denny of the Bookstor bookshop, in Kinsale, near Cork in Ireland's southwest.

"It's not just from the commercial point of view," she emphasizes. "We love organizing events here and Harry Potter was great for getting the community together, for bringing people in," she says.

Denny's bookshop had a great success with the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Denny feels that there is now a void.

"Children do not really know where to turn next. Although the publishers have jumped on the bandwagon and brought out other fantasy books, there is nothing that really fills that space."

Katja Strauss, 19, a German Potter fan, currently living in Ireland, is not altogether despondent at the ending of the series.

She holds out some hope for a future filled with young Potters.

"The seventh book ends with a view into the future of Harry Potter. It would be a great thing to write about Harry Potter's children. But maybe JK Rowling doesn't want to write another book about Harry Potter. I heard she was writing another book though and I am looking forward to that," she says.

In the meantime, rereading fills a gap. "After the seventh one came out, I reread them all," she says. "One of my friends has reread them about five times."

Strauss, who has been reading the books since she was 12, considers Rowling's life to be almost as intriguing as that of her magical protagonist.

"She has had a very interesting life, starting out so poor and earning so much money from the books."

With Rowling now nearly twice as wealthy as the British queen, the public imagination has indeed been caught almost as much by the unlikely heroine with the Midas pen as with her wizard protagonist Harry Potter.

There are undertones of the little match girl in the story of the newly-divorced single mum who had to write in Edinburgh cafes as she couldn't afford the heating at home.

However, unlike Grimm's diminutive heroine who was dispatched to heaven, Rowling's creative talents have transported her to its modern-day equivalent.

With an estimated fortune of 1 billion dollars, she presides with aplomb over the global Pottermania phenomenon, guarding her privacy, but speaking out on issues she feels strongly about and attending sparkling premieres and gala events as she chooses.

What's more, she looks fabulous.

The somewhat bedraggled-looking woman who emerged into the public glare 10 years ago with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is now a chic, svelte blonde who can carry off an Oscar's gown with the best of them.

So what will Rowling, aged 42, do next? Her private life keeps her busy of course. She married Dr Neil Murray in 2001 and has had two children since. Then, there's her charity work.

She has sold a set of wizardy fairytales she alluded to in the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for Children's Voice, a charity she co-founded which campaigns for child rights across Europe.

And much to the delight of fans, Rowling has announced that she had a "half- finished book for children" that would probably end up being her next published work.

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