THE story of struggling single mother JK Rowling penning her first Harry Potter book in the warmth of an Edinburgh cafe has become part of the legend of her success.
But now the internationally famous author has revealed that she still wants to write in cafes - but cannot because of her fame.
The revelation from the notoriously private author in a scoop interview by Edinburgh schoolchildren may even explain why her latest book was so long in the writing and delayed. There had been speculation she was suffering from writer’s block.
Now the multi-millionaire has told how she longs to return to the kind of environment where she spent hours dreaming up storylines while her daughter Jessica slept in a push-chair.
In an the interview for an Edinburgh school’s magazine, the usually guarded Ms Rowling has revealed how she still sees a large cafe with a window seat as her "ideal writing space".
But she has admitted it is now impossible for her to sit in cafes like Nicolson’s, in Nicolson Street, where Harry Potter was created, because of her fame.
In the interview for Broughton High’s magazine, the author also tells how she had suffered feelings of "general hopelessness" while writing the first book, how she worried that she would never finish it, and of the "indescribable" feeling of pride she felt when she saw it on sale for the first time.
Ms Rowling has denied basing any of the characters in the books on real people, except for herself, attacked people who have called for the books to be banned as "misguided", and told how one of her remaining ambitions is learning to drive.
The school magazine’s team secured an interview with crime writer Ian Rankin for the same edition, and have also interviewed celebrities such as Gail Porter and dance music guru Moby in the past.
But they are remaining tight-lipped about how they managed to secure the JK Rowling scoop, saying only they were helped by a "go-between".
The famously-guarded Ms Rowling, whose first Harry Potter book was published in 1997, has granted very few interviews over the last couple of years.
Three senior students working on the magazine - Nicola Nairn, Adam Knight and Jennifer Milne - worked on a list of questions which were sent via e-mail to the author.
She told the magazine: "My ideal writing space is a large cafe with a small corner table near a window overlooking an interesting street (for gazing out of in search of inspiration).
"It would serve very strong coffee and be non-smoking (because I’ve now given up for two years and don’t want to be tempted) and nobody would notice me at all. But I can’t write in cafes any more because I would get recognised a lot."
In response to being asked if she felt like giving up writing the first book, she said: "Several times a feeling of general hopelessness would come over me and I’d wonder whether I wasn’t deluding myself. But this feeling never lasted longer than an evening.
"It was an indescribable feeling of pride (seeing the first book on the shelves), something close to the feeling I had when I saw my daughter for the first time.
Ms Rowling also revealed how the main female character in the books - Harry’s friend Hermione - is an "exaggerated" version of herself, but insists all the others are completely fictional.
Wendy Munro, head of media studies at the school, said students were completely responsible for writing, editing and designing The High magazine.
She said: " Our contact vetted all the questions that we compiled, they were then sent on to her for approval and a week later was got all these replies."
Nicola, 17, associate editor at the magazine, said: "We were so surprised to get the interview but it all turned out great."