The Next Chapter

Tyler Enfield's novel Like Rum-Drunk Angels is a genre mash-up of magic realism and spaghetti westerns

The Edmonton writer and photographer explains why he wrote his latest book.
Like Rum-Drunk Angels is a book by Tyler Enfield. (Goose Lane Editions)

Tyler Enfield is a writer and photographer from Edmonton. He is the writer of several YA books, as well as the Madder Carmine

His latest novel is Like Rum-Drunk Angels. It's about a 14-year-old bandit named Francis Blackstone. After falling in love with the mayor's daughter, Francis resolves to rob a Manhattan Company bank in order to win her favour. Teaming up with volatile outlaw Bob Temple, Francis begins a journey across the west searching for treasure and unrequited love. 

Enfield spoke with The Next Chapter about writing Like Rum-Drunk Angels.

A love of genre fiction

"I grew up watching spaghetti westerns. I was always taken by the strange, surreal atmosphere those stories could create, which was something like magic realism. 

"I've always also liked magic realism. It is able to combine two elements of storytelling that should be mutually opposed. When you bang the magic and the realism together, you get these strange sparks that are atmospheric and almost psychedelic. 

I grew up watching spaghetti westerns. I was always taken by the strange, surreal atmosphere that those stories could create, which was something like magic realism.

"I've also always liked the fairy tales of the East, like Aladdin and Arabian Nights. So I thought it'd be interesting to try to bring those two elements together. I knew there'd be friction and conflict, even on a conceptual level. I know that in storytelling, conflicting intentions are good. 

"So I thought I'd be worth exploring and see what kind of fun I could have with it."

A heart of gold

"The protagonist of this story is named Francis Blackstone. He's a 14-year-old boy with a heart of gold, who set out to find the love of his life. But in order to win her hand in marriage, he has to basically get some money together. So he sets out to find his fortune. 

That's the basis of this story — watching what one person will do when they're unconditioned by the world and not at all concerned with the consequences of following their heart, no matter what.

"I wanted him to be young rather than old, because teenagers are basically like a force of nature. They're honest. They just gallop a straight line into life. They're not concerned with what others think. 

"He's somebody who will do absolutely anything for love. That's the basis of this story — watching what one person will do when they're unconditioned by the world and not at all concerned with the consequences of following their heart, no matter what."

Tyler Enfield's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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