Ken Kalfus: A Man with Mars on His Mind

May 15, 2013

Ken Kalfus

By Becca DiFabbio

The question of life on Mars—and the possibility of communicating with the red planet—has been pondered throughout the centuries by philosophers, astronomers, and science-fiction writers. Ken Kalfus revisits this fascinating question in his new novel "Equilateral." He shared some of his personal creative journey with students and faculty at Delaware Valley College, when he visited the campus May 7 for a book reading and signing event sponsored by the Doylestown Bookshop.

Set in 1894, "Equilateral" tells the story of astronomer Stanford Thayer who creates an enormous, 300-mile tall triangle in the Egyptian desert whose shape and size would signal to any inhabitants on Mars that there is life on Earth. The novel’s plot also includes a romantic twist that keeps the reader clinging to every word.

Following a reading of the novel’s first chapter, Kalfus answered several questions pertaining to his subject matter and writing process. Recent Mars Rover expeditions continue to excite the popular imagination, and the same goes for Kalfus, whose work is fueled by his interest in astronomy and fascination with extraterrestrial life.

“I live in the world, and the world animates my imagination," said Kalfus. "We are thinking a lot about life on other planets, so the issue is on my mind.”

Kalfus fleshes out his plots in full-length “vomit drafts” before returning to the early stages of his writing, and before conducting any elaborate (and distracting) research on his topic.

“I hate a blank screen,” he said.

Kalfus wrote and revised the first draft of "Equilateral" over the course of a year and a half. An avid writer since the age of eight, Kalfus has worked as a journalist and freelance writer. He is the author of five books; "Equilateral" is his third novel.