The Split is an upcoming debut novel from author, Laura Kay. A brilliant queer rom-com that’s both a funny and heartwarming story of love, heartache, family and friendship. Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally takes the cat and heads home to Sheffield. Together with her (also broken-hearted) best friend Jeremy, they sign up to a half marathon in a bid to impress their exes. It’s the uplifting and hilariously relatable read that we all need right now! Here, Laura Kay shares her thoughts on the power of friendships and what they mean to her.
In primary school there were only a few basic things that I needed from a friend. The desire to play with my Funfax Spy File and go dusting the neighbourhood for fingerprints was high on the list (I still have one close friend from primary school – ‘dusting the neighbourhood for fingerprints’ is now a very apt euphemism for us ‘furiously gossiping about everyone we know.’) Other vital qualities were wanting to swap Spice Girls photos and having access to Nickelodeon which we didn’t have at home. Howling with laughter at Kenan & Kel was very important to me. As I grew older and my Spy File was abandoned, I found that I was looking for something slightly more sophisticated in my friendships, access to Bacardi Breezers aside. The most important thing remained though, I wanted friends who I could laugh with.
In secondary school my friend Katy and I used to sit next to each other in every lesson, cackling. We’d spend every single lunchtime together, go home, log into MSN (OK, we are 100 years old!) and chat until dinner time. We’d allow a short break to eat with our families before ringing each other on the landline and chatting for the rest of the evening, including while we were in the bath. This did not feel excessive to us then and I stand by that to this day. We’re still the kind of friends who tell each other everything (too much, some might say) almost twenty years on.
Later at university I met the friends who are the people I would call in the middle of the night now. The people who I danced with until false eyelashes fell off, who drank entire bottles of Lambrini with me in a dancefloor cage (OK, I did not get more sophisticated!). I still laugh remembering my friend Lucy sitting in the kitchen in our final year, typing an essay in the middle of the night wearing a fur coat and chain eating bananas for energy. These friendships, the real ones where you can be at your worst and most disgusting around each other – anxious, heartbroken, jealous, depressed, mean – and still find yourselves howling with laughter, are what I wanted to capture in The Split.
The true love story at the heart of The Split is Ally and Jeremy’s. There is a moment in the book when, after a few years apart, Ally and Jeremy re-connect and it’s like a spark reigniting. Platonic relationships can be exciting and full of chemistry, too. I wanted to try and portray how even in our darkest moments laughing with a friend can take the edge off almost any situation, especially a break-up. I was once sent a single party hat emoji by a girl after she ended things with me and as soon as I told my best friend this she didn’t stop sending me them. She still sends them now. The girl will forever be known as Party Hat.
Years of complaining and drinking wine, eating cake and smoking even though we’ve given up, comprised the research for this novel. Small moments that are easy to take for granted. I love reading friendship in fiction. I have recently re-read Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget’s urban family really resonated with me. I think for queer people, even those lucky enough to have wonderful supportive families, still rely heavily on the family they choose away from home. My group of queer friends are everything to me. We laugh and cry together but we also understand deeply how each other moves through the world. What it means when someone at work makes an off comment, when someone yells in the street, how we make choices all the time that straight people don’t even consider – which pubs are safe, which clothes, which toilets. One of my go-to happy memories is of a huge group of us standing in a circle screaming along to Ariana Grande in the RVT, squeezed in between other groups of friends doing the exact same thing. It is restorative. It is silly. It is essential.
This was a bittersweet piece to write during lockdown. I miss my friends. Sure, we’ve seen each other on Zoom, posted birthday presents, choreographed dance videos to obscure San Marinian Eurovision entries. Who hasn’t? But I miss hugging them, cooking for them and lying on their sofas watching rubbish films.
There is nothing like someone who knows you, really knows you – the you that doesn’t exist at work or online – who can hold you while you cry, slag off whoever or whatever it is you need them to, including occasionally, life or death itself, and then pick you back up, dust you off and keep you moving forward. And send you a party hat emoji. Even though it feels like it won’t ever be funny, it will be.
by Laura Kay
'The Split has everything I love in a novel. It's hilariously funny, it's so uplifting, and its characters are irresistibly loveable' - BETH O'LEARY
'Full of humour, kindness, cake and a cat, this is the novel to turn to in difficult times' - KATIE FFORDE
'A warm, funny, comforting read with such loveable characters!' - RUTH JONES
Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless... but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily's cat.
After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again.
In an inspired effort to hold each other up, the pair decide to sign up for the local half marathon in a bid to impress their exes with their commitment and athleticism.
Given neither of them can run, they enlist the support of athletic, not to mention beautiful, Jo. But will she have them running for the hills... or will their ridiculous plan pay off...?
A brilliant, heart-warming and intensely funny story of love, heartache, friendship and family. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Dawn O'Porter.