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Spotlight: YOU AGAIN

The call for submissions for our latest books, the Hipflask Series, is open until 25th October 2021. These are unusual titles, even by Sidekick standards, so we’ve put together a series of short posts, one for each of the four books, breaking down the ideas and influences behind the book and what we’re looking for from you. Today we’re encountering the mixed feelings, tense tangos and dark duels of…

Book cover for You Again, featuring a dancing couple whose heads are a lighter and a trail of gunpower.

What’s the big idea?

Smeagol: [weeping] “I hate you. I hate you.”
Gollum: “Where would you be without me, uh? Gollum, gollum… I saved us! It was me! We survived because of me!”
Smeagol: [stops crying] “Not anymore.”
– Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

You Again is a book bursting with romance and rows, magnetism and antagonism, sweet-sorrow partings and good-riddances. Contributors will each write about a person, place, idea, object etc. that both attracts and repulses them, raising both their heart-rate and their blood pressure simultaneously.

Who and what gave us the idea for this book?

Love-hate relationships have been written about since time immemorial. Roman poet Catullus’ in Carmina 85 (Odi Et Amo), wrote:

“I hate and I love. Wherefore I do this, perhaps you ask.
I do not know, but I feel it being done and I am tormented.”

More recently in history, we’ve seen non-romantic examples. Take the fraught dynamic between James Joyce and Dublin, the hometown he fled but could not forget. Or Michael Bluth’s bungee-cord attachment to his dysfunctional family in Arrested Development. Something about these relationships keeps us coming back time and again.

What are we looking for in submissions?

We want your lyrical narrative or critical writing on something you both love and hate. This could be a person, an institution, an abstract concept, or anything else. We want to see the conflict and complexity that characterises these relationships laid out on the page.

For structure, think prose poems and micro lyrical essays. Maximum length if submitting in prose form: 600 words per piece. Maximum length if submitting in verse form: 50 lines per piece, and a maximum of three pieces.

What are we not looking for?

Images, brand names, fleeting trends and adult content. We want the Hipflasks to be as enjoyable 20 years from now as they are today, and we want to take them to as large an audience as possible.

Give us an example.

William Wilson – Edgar Allan Poe’s short, sharp tale of paranoia and guilty conscience sees the eponymous speaker encounter an identically named man who follows the narrator throughout his life, seemingly to highlight his inadequacies and faults. The speaker begins by being dazzled by the other Wilson, and being mistaken for his brother, but this enchantment gradually turns to loathing and resentment, culminating in tragedy.

Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) – one of the best-known literary love-hate tales. The pendulum of affection between Catherine and Heathcliff swings in the winds of the rough moors, from romance to rage to ruin.

Here You Come Again (Dolly Parton) – a classic Dolly song about getting back on your feet after heartbreak, only for the heartbreaker to stroll back into town and undo all that hard work by smiling that smile.

No Children (Mountain Goats) – this lilting, caustic ballad tells of a marriage of mutual, unbreakable loathing. A surprisingly popular song choice for weddings.

Any further questions?

Check the call for submissions in case your answer lies there. If not, email contact[at] or find us on Twitter @SidekickBooks.

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