Our past collections

Check out some of the past book boxes we've curated, the underrepresented groups we and our members have been allies to, and more about the themes we have showcased

The aim of Heady Mix's collections

Each book box theme is carefully thought out and selected by our curation team which is led by our Chief Curator and Founder, Justina Cruickshank . The aim behind our collections is to challenge and overcome the problem of representation in literature. Not only are talented authors being sidelined and left off bookshelves, but there are too many identikit book characters with not nearly enough diversity nor the fascinating perspectives that we're lucky enough to experience in the real world. 

And why does any of it matter? Books inform every aspect of our lives. Films are adapted from books. History begins with books. We learn through books and about books in school. Books are everywhere so they need to represent everyone.  

Where do you belong? 

California Dreaming

This collection explored immigration and the notion of belonging and acceptance featuring writers from all over the world who have migrated from one country to another.

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About California Dreaming

Many immigration stories start in the same place, not physically, but metaphorically it’s the same. They start with a dream of otherness, of better. Whether it’s safety from persecution, freedom from poverty, fleeing from a war, crop failure or environmental disaster, lifestyle migration, family unity, religious belonging or seeking better opportunities in education or employment; whatever the motivation, much of the world’s migration starts with a dream of a better (however subjectively defined), life.

It’s the 1965 hit California Dreamin’ with its lyrics "I’d be safe and warm, If I was in LA", that is the marching anthem for those longing for better. Serving as a metaphor for a restless generation, it became a gospel for new thinking, and marked the age of agency. So California Dreamin’ felt an appropriate title for a collection focused on migration and the search for a new beginnings.

Whilst there is vast diversity in those who no longer call their bloodline nation home and a myriad of journeys and experiences of international migrants, the literature that reflects their tale is stagnant, limited and unrepresentative. All too common is the ‘fish out of water’ narrative, that focuses on escape from a stereotyped poor, third world country, and too many that pander to the West’s proposed blueprint of how immigrants do and should behave when they arrive on foreign shores. It was clear that many publishers don’t give the reading public credit in 1) being curious about different immigration stories and 2) wanting to spend money on these different immigration stories.

So here at Heady Mix we decided to share stories that look at themes of identity, at work that navigates the questions ‘Where are you from?’, ‘How and with where, do you identify?’. In the hostile climate of Brexit and borders built by walls, it’s never been more vital to listen and learn to as many tales of migration as we possible. We must explore how experience differs so greatly between each of those who’s ancestral home is no longer their own. Perhaps that is, and has always been, an essential part of the American dream.

Is the absence of sound silence? 

Loud Silence

In this collection, we brought together writers from the D/deaf community to take  readers on a journey that explores identity, representation and communication.

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About Loud Silence

Loud Silence: two words used rarely together, and perhaps for many thought of as oxymoronic. But to us at Heady Mix, these two words represented exactly what we wanted to instil with our book box that showcased stories and experiences from the D/deaf community. For many hearing people, the absence of noise is perceived through a very narrow lens, either it’s there or it isn’t. However, for the D/deaf community sound is communicated in alternative ways, and just because it doesn’t exist in the 'hearing' sense, doesn’t mean it isn’t there at all.

When we began our researching the Loud Silence book box, our reading took us through recurring themes of isolation and of being ignored. Yet the further we looked, the more we realised that for each sad story there was another that showed the strength and determination of a community perceived to be silent, one constantly fighting against the stereotype.

Far too often, because hearing people don’t recognise sound when a person uses Sign Language to express and interact, it is implied there is no voice, yet this is far from the case. The D/deaf community, with hands and fingers moving flawlessly, shape stories via the 300 plus Sign Languages around the world. It is a group with a rich history and strong identity despite the many biases, stereotypes and barriers determined to make life harder than it needs to be.

The English language we discovered is also sound bias, something many overlook. Consider phases such as “falls on deaf ears” or “deaf as a post”, and think too about the words used to describe communication: talk, speak, hear, listen. With such limited language, there is complete oversight of those without hearing, how they express and engage with the world around them.

So that’s why we chose to focus on giving a platform to the D/deaf community, to go some way in correcting this oversight, so that more people can understand and relate to a world where noise is communicated differently and voices are heard loud, even without sound.