The '80s pop icon talks to EW exclusively about her first dive into fiction with This Bird Has Flown.

As the indelible doe-eyed frontwoman of the Bangles, the L.A. foursome whose pure pop instincts and cool-girl swagger helped launch them to platinum MTV stardom in the 1980s, Susanna Hoffs is hardly a show business newbie. (She's also been married for nearly three decades to director Jay Roach, of Austin Powers and Meet the Parents fame, with whom she has two sons.)

But she hasn't put pen to paper as a fiction writer until now. The ageless multi-hyphenate, 63, exclusively reveals the cover of her debut novel, This Bird Has Flown (due in April 2023) here, and discusses the inspiration for a book that her publisher, Little, Brown, describes as "for lovers of Daisy Jones & the Six, and inspired by favorites like Jane Eyre and Bridget Jones's Diary."

Susanna Hoffs
Susanna Hoffs' 'This Bird Has Flown' novel debuts in 2023
| Credit: Jonathon-Kingsbury

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you decide to write a novel?

SUSANNA HOFFS: I've been a lifelong reader and have always loved disappearing into other people's stories, whether in a novel, a film, a play, a painting, a song. I dreamed one day of writing a novel of my own. And then it hit me, If not now when? and I took the plunge! 

To my delight, I found an unexpected sense of freedom sitting alone in my room, writing for hours at a time. Perhaps this has to do with the escapist nature of my novel, which explores, in part, that first blush of a sexy new romance.

How did the story come about? 

I was drawn to a couple of themes that informed the story: Will the ghosts of relationships past threaten our chances of finding true love and happiness? Will our own personal demons doom us from succeeding in our work?

I decided to make my protagonist a musician and songwriter because it's a job I know well. I've experienced the joy of making music, the thrill of performing, but also the challenges of being in the music business. I also wanted to give readers a peek behind the curtain of what it's like to face an audience with your heart thumping so loudly you fear they can hear it too — and then, somehow, to find your voice.

Was the character Tom Hardy inspired by the actor at all? He was in the Wuthering Heights adaptation.

The name for my character was not inspired by the actor, but rather by the author Thomas Hardy, who wrote one of my favorite novels, Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I knew that I wanted my character to go by Tom, thus he ended up being Tom Hardy. If you read the novel, you'll see his name sparks a nice moment in the story, where my two characters converse about it.

This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs
'This Bird Has Flown' by Susanna Hoffs

What is your writing process like, and how is it different from writing music?

Writing the novel was a truly solitary act. Whereas with songwriting, I've almost always collaborated with other musicians. I wrote "Eternal Flame," for example, with my dear friends Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. 

I found the novel writing process truly exhilarating. It was permission to escape into my fictional world with my characters, as though I'd gone through a portal into another world. Music informed the journey. Songs would trigger my characters to start talking, and I'd scramble to write down what they were saying and doing, and even the expressions they had on their faces as they did. It was essentially like playing with dolls in my imagination. I'd vanish for hours at a time, until a family member would knock at my door and urge me to at least join them for dinner.  

This Bird Has Flown will be released April 4, 2023.

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