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Author Dr. Steven Derfler will speak May 20

After teaching for 30 years, Dr. Steven Derfler wanted to write. Specifically, the former professor wanted to write archeological novels.

With his novels he didn’t want to just tell an exciting story. Derfler also wanted to present plausible ideas.

Derfler recently retired from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

In his most recent novel An Unexpected Caliph, Derfler explores ancient Egypt, pre-World War II, and the what-ifs of the future.

“The novel gives readers the opportunity to look into the past … as well as a more hopeful future,” said Derfler.

The story explores the consequences of the re-discovery of ancient Egyptian manuscripts by the Third Reich, that support the notion that ancient societies were more tolerant of other religions than today’s world. Specifically, Derfler said, the manuscripts reveal a greater degree of cooperation between ancient Egyptians and the Jewish community.

An archaeologist and historian, Derfler said some of the details in the book are autobiographical. Derfler has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, including Egypt and Morocco, the areas that are the focus of the book. He wanted the book to include real-life elements to give the story teeth.

“It’s a very plausible story. To me the truth can be more exciting or at least authentic,” said Derfler.

Given his experiences, Derfler said he likes to play with the “what ifs” of ancient history. With An Unexpected Caliph Derfler also wanted to offer hope that the future could be better.

In retirement, Derfler also serves as the director of Educational Resources Inc. The non-profit educational organization promotes understanding and tolerance among different ethnic and religious groups. To promote diversity and international awareness, Derfler directs study tours to Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Greece, Turkey and, most recently, Cuba.

As part of the Rosemount Area Arts Council’s Meet the Author series, Derfler will speak at 6:30 p.m. May 20 at the Robert Trail Library.

Copies of An Unexpected Caliph will be available for purchase at the event. The book is also available on the Amazon and Barnes Noble websites. For more information on Derfler and his non-profit visit

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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