By Stephan Lee
Updated October 16, 2014 at 05:19 PM EDT

The author of About a Boy is bringing you a new novel about a funny girl. In Funny Girl, Nick Hornby takes us to the London of the swinging sixties. Sophie Straw, a former beauty queen who cares more about humor than looks, mesmerizes the nation as the star of a sitcom. It dives deep into the world of TV comedy writing and female comics. Take a look at the mod U.S. cover of Funny Girl, exclusively revealed here, and read on for a quick Q&A about the novel, available on Feb. 3.

What made you want to write about funny ladies?

Lots of things…A biography of Lucille Ball that I read probably started it. And working with Rosamund Pike on An Education started me thinking about women who don’t want to do the conventional thing with their beauty.

Is there a real-life inspiration for Sophie Straw?

No. If anything, the absence of a real-life Sophie Straw inspired the book. There was no English comedienne of a similar stature in that era, so I wanted to fill the gap with a fictional character.

Do you see this story as movie?

Maybe a book about a TV series is more likely to end up as a TV series. But I never see my books as anything other than books at this stage in their lives.