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I saw my third novel begin to unfurl on a walk near Abbotsbury, on the Dorset coast, in autumn 2021. Below me, overlooked by a fourteenth-century chapel and rings of medieval strip lynchets, a deeply preoccupied man was – in my mind – watching a shape lurch towards him out of the sea. Earlier in the day, I’d been in an eerie shop selling old ship’s bells.
Tom Cox
116% Funded | 609 Supporters

Everything Will Swallow You

Tom Cox
Status: being funded
Publication Date: TBC
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I saw my third novel begin to unfurl on a walk near Abbotsbury, on the Dorset coast, in autumn 2021. Below me, overlooked by a fourteenth-century chapel and rings of medieval strip lynchets, a deeply preoccupied man was – in my mind – watching a shape lurch towards him out of the sea. Earlier in the day, I’d been in an eerie shop selling old ship’s bells.
Tom Cox

Eric and Karl live in Dorset in a small white cottage under the shadow of a big cliff. Eric sells old records and antiques. Karl cleans Eric’s dirty handmarks off the cupboards, walls and banisters, tends their small garden, cooks a wide repertoire of spicy food and helps introduce a semblance of order to his housemate’s chaotic life. Eric likes maps, Second World War memorabilia and the smell of old cars and, at 67, seems to be still waiting for full self-awareness to land. Karl, who everyone assumes is much younger, has a sophisticated emotional intelligence and likes birds, wildflowers, mid-twentieth-century female novelists, swimming and needlecraft. If you met them, you might see them as a rural English version of the Odd Couple, if not for one major difference: Karl has long floppy ears, a tail and is covered head to toe in fur. Most people who meet him mistake him for a dog, but they struggle to guess his breed, and his origins remain mysterious. He and Eric only know that one day in 2003 – ‘history’s worst year since 1939  while Eric was on the beach, contemplating all the ways in which he’d hijacked his own life, Karl crawled, confused, out of the sea in front of him and since then they have been inseparable, requiring one another’s support and friendship in very different, but equally vital, ways. Their secret remains off-limits to everyone outside their inner circle, which also includes Eric’s ex-girlfriend Mel. But are there clues to Karls origins in the visions that he experiences on their walks through the West Country landscape, and their visits to old, cluttered buildings? And where does this put Eric in his attempts to reconnect with his estranged family?

I saw my third novel begin to unfurl on a walk near Abbotsbury, on the Dorset coast, in autumn 2021. Below me, overlooked by a fourteenth-century chapel and rings of medieval strip lynchets, a deeply preoccupied man was in my mind watching a shape lurch towards him out of the sea. Earlier in the day, I’d been in an eerie shop selling old ship’s bells. I imagined one of these bells in the man’s house, casting a dark spell. I knew the rest of the story, deep inside, but realised I needed more time to tell it to myself. I decided to write another novel first. That novel called 1983 is complete and being published in August 2024. What all this means is, for the first time, I’m crowdfunding a book before my previous book is out. This is because if I didn’t do that, with the extra time that crowdfunding takes, I’d only be able to publish one novel every two years and I want ok, need  to publish a novel every year. It’s also because I want to continue writing them in exactly the way they needed to be written, and to continue publishing them with Unbound. I’m hoping that, even if you’ve already been kind enough to support 1983 and you’re patiently awaiting its arrival, you’ll be able to support this one too. If you do, you’ll receive two very different novels by me within less than a year of one another.

The result of countless walks and three years of research into the antique and secondhand vinyl trade, Everything Will Swallow You is about friendship, class, the murky unfathomable spaces on the edge of the British landscape, the collector instinct, the power of objects, and a man constantly swimming through the past who finally must face the inconvenience of confronting his own. It feels to me like one of the weird books I dreamed about writing back when I wrote safer and more obedient books, and would wake up feeling sad that I hadn’t actually written it yet. It’s already the most ambitious adventure I’ve ever been on. It is folding back my mind in new ways. I am at least 99.5% sure it’s already the best thing I’ve ever written, maybe the scariest, too. I’m standing on a rocky ledge, looking at the mist ahead of me, trusting, but not knowing, there’s a huge soft mattress somewhere down there. I don’t need anyone to hold my hand (that would spoil the fun) but it would be great if you could come with me.

Cover image: Mick Cox

If you wish to a little taster of the book please click on the Excerpt link.

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