Rowling 'Dreads' Final Potter Book

12/27/2005 at 12:00 PM EST

Rowling 'Dreads' Final Potter Book
J.K. Rowling
Mark Stewart/Camera Press/Retna
The New Year will bring a happy beginning and a sad end for Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who says she's approaching the writing of the seventh and final saga of the young wizard's book series with "mingled feelings of excitement and dread."

The excitement comes "because I can't wait to get started, to tell the final part of the story and, at last, to answer all the questions," the Scottish author writes in a posting on her official Web site.

The dread arises because "it will all be over at last and I can't quite imagine life without Harry." She is scheduled to begin writing the final book in January.

Rowling, 40, then goes on to write: "However (clears throat in stern British manner) this is no time to get maudlin."

She asserts that she's been at work "fine-tuning the fine-tuned plan" of this follow-up to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for the past several weeks in order to buckle down next month – though, she also writes: "Reading through the plan is like contemplating the map of an unknown country in which I will soon find myself."

Among the occasional roadblocks, she admits is that "sometimes, even at this stage, you can see trouble looming; nearly all of the six published books have had Chapters of Doom. "

The toughest such chapter she ever faced was chapter nine of Goblet of Fire, – "appropriately enough, 'The Dark Mark,' she cites – which she labels the "Chapter That Nearly Broke My Will To Go On."

Rowling's last effort, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, came out in July after a two-year wait and became an international bestseller.

And just as she doesn't offer a publication date for what no doubt will be one of the biggest literary events of all time, Rowling is equally secretive about what future plans she has in store for her Web site. But she does advise fans: "Constant vigilance, my friends."

Of that, she can be sure.

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