updated 04/28/2011 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/28/2011 AT 12:20 PM ET
Bridget Jones fans, take heart: The plucky, hilarious heroine is poised to make her return.
The wine-guzzling, weight-checking, big undies-sporting star of the 1996 smash novel Bridget Jones’s Diary and its 1999 sequel – both brought to life on film by Renée Zellweger – is “just turning 40,” says author Helen Fielding, who is currently writing the third book in the series.
“Bridget is struggling with baby issues – that sort of baby panic,” Fielding tells PEOPLE. “It’s going to be talking about babies and life and really the theme of it is expectation: the way life never turns out quite the way you expect.”
But readers who can’t wait for the book can find Bridget on Twitter (@bridgetjoneshf), where Fielding voices the character in all her neurotic glory, along with Bridget’s love interests Mark Darcy (@markdarcylegal) and Daniel Cleaver (@danielcleaverxx).
“I’m obsessed with it,” she says. “I can only write one sentence, and then I have to Google a vacation. I knew if I got on Twitter I would not be able to stop, and sure enough, that’s what’s happened.
Fielding, who is also working with singer Lily Allen on a musical stage version of Bridget Jones, continues to marvel at the affection for the series, which has sold nearly 20 million books worldwide.
“I think it’s made me see the world in a slightly different way,” she says, “and understand that everyone seems to have this feeling in the modern world that there’s a really big gap between how they’re expected to be and how they really are. And I think that’s really at the bottom of Bridget.”
For more from Helen Fielding – including how she juggles work and handles her life as a mom of two – pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE