Wednesday, May 9, 2012

During the 1930's Depression, John Gaston is a single father. How will his family survive? Author Interview with Rod Prendergast VBT Pit Stop May 9

Dinner With Lisa 

In the disastrous economic times of the 1930s, Joseph Gaston, a young widower with four children, arrives in the small town of Philibuster seeking security for his family. Instead, he faces barriers everywhere. He does his best despite great adversity, but the strain of feeding and protecting his family whittles away his strength. Finally, destitution forces him to consider giving up his children in order to save them. Enraged by his situation, he attempts one last desperate act—on the night he learns about the mysterious Lisa.

Click on the image to visit Rod's Meet & Greet at VBT Cafe.

R. L. (Rod) Prendergast was the entrepreneurial kid you saw on your neighbourhood street selling lemonade on a hot summer's day. Recognizing young Rod's preoccupation with money, his mother bribed him to read with an offer of 25 cents per book—and instilled in him a lifelong love of reading. Although he continued down the path of industry—he started and sold his first business before completing his Bachelor of Commerce—he continued to read voraciously. After a number of years working in sales, marketing and management for several companies he spent a year's sabbatical surfing and reading in New Zealand and, free of business pressures, he began to write. Those first words became the backbone of The Impact of a Single Eventwhich was long listed for the Independent Publishers Book Award for literary fiction, and which became a national bestseller in Canada. Spurred on by the success of his first novel, he took another sabbatical and wrote Dinner with Lisa. He is currently working on his next book.

Louise: Rod, welcome to my blog! I’m so excited you could join me for a chat. When did you first decide to submit your work to be published? Tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

Rod: It’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me. A number of years ago my wife and I moved to New Zealand so that she could continue her education. While we were there I didn’t have the same work pressures that I had in North America. As a result I began to spend a lot of time in the local libraries reading to my heart’s content. One day while I was reading an idea popped into my head. “Wouldn’t it be interesting to read a story about a diary that gets passed down from one generation to the next, where only one person per generation gets to add a story about a turning point in their life.” That was the initial idea for my novel The Impact of a Single Event. When we moved home, I found a freelance editor to help me whip my manuscript into shape. After a year of re-writing, I knew I had something. After that, it didn’t take anyone to encourage me. Fortunately, that novel became a national bestseller.

Louise: Please tell us a little about your new release Dinner with Lisa without giving too much of a spoiler away. I read a sample on Amazon and I have added it to my TBR list!

Rod: Dinner with Lisa is set during the Great Depression. Joseph Gaston, an unemployed widower with four young children, uproots his family and moves west because he’s been promised work. Once he arrives in the small town of Philibuster he finds that the job promised to him has been given to someone else. He has no money left to return him and his family back home so they’re forced to stay in Philibuster. While in Philibuster, Joseph is reunited with his prankster brother, known throughout town as the Great Henri. Thanks to the Great Henri, Joseph has some trouble with the law. So not only must Joseph find work and keep his family from starving, but he’s got to avoid the chief of police who is after him as well.


He looked up when Nolan suddenly exclaimed, “Dad!”
“What?” Joseph felt drained as he pulled the overalls from the suitcase.
“The baby isn’t moving!” Nolan sounded alarmed.
Clare had been crying all day; for the first time she was silent. “She’s sleeping,” Joseph said, his attention still on Sarah.
Nolan’s brown eyes were wide with panic. “But, Dad, she’s not breathing!”
The words brought Joseph instantly back to his feet. Bending over the baby, he studied her closely. Nolan was right. Clare showed no sign of life. Quickly Joseph put his face to Clare’s nose and mouth, and waited—prayed—for her to exhale. Nothing. Were her lips blue or was he imagining it? He wasn’t sure. “Christ!” he muttered, as he grabbed the limp infant from Nolan’s arms and shook her gently.
“Did she swallow something?” he barked at his son, startling nearby passengers.
“No,” Nolan said tensely, as he watched his father part the baby’s lips and investigate her mouth with his fingers.
Joseph balled up Cole’s overalls and placed them under Clare’s shoulders, arching her head back and opening her windpipe. In an effort to force air into her lungs, he drew her arms up and over her head. When that didn’t work he flipped her onto her belly, turned her head to the side, placed her hands beneath her chin, and lifted her elbows to expand her lungs. All this took less than a minute.
Joseph had never been so frightened. He had done everything he’d been taught in the army, but Clare still didn’t respond. Oblivious to the silence in the car and the distress of those around him, he began to strike Clare’s back. Again and again he struck, each time a little harder. By now the baby’s small hands and feet were grey.
“Help! Someone please help!” he screamed, looking around pleadingly. “My baby’s not breathing!”
The other passengers were frozen with shock. No one moved.

Heart wrenching, humorous and historically authentic, Dinner with Lisa incorporates the crucial issues of the depression: poverty, unemployment, drought and racism. In the midst of love and loyalty, trickery and despair, the ultimate message of the novel is one of hope and the courage to survive even the worst odds.

Louise: What a great excerpt! Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Rod: I plan them out in advance, but they always evolve.

Louise: How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?

Rod: Since my novels have history in them, I tend to do a fair amount of research. My favorite way to research is go through newspapers of the time period (if they’re available!) and I always find really, really interesting things. A lot of these cool tidbits make it into my novels.

Louise: What is your writing process? Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants (Pantser) or a combination of both?

Rod: I do an outline, but like my characters, it always changes as I get to know the characters and find worse and worse situations to put them into (and get them out of!).

Louise: Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer or still do?

Rod: I have been lately. Before writing Dinner with Lisa I was the director of a laser vision correction clinic. A far cry from life as a writer!

Louise: Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.

Rod: My son is about 2 ½ years old. About once a week my wife and I clip his fingernails while he sits at the computer. We’ll play a video for him so that he’s distracted. The fingernail clippers are always beside the computer and I find myself lining it up a certain way when I sit down to work each morning.

Louise: Describe a typical writing day for you.

Rod: I wish I could tell you something about my writing habits that would be memorable, but I don’t think I have any interesting habits. When I write I treat it like a job. I sit down in the morning and work. I have lunch and then I go back to work until my brain is mushy. Sometimes mushy brain strikes me at three in the afternoon, sometime it’s eight at night. I know I’ve had enough when I get a little dizzy and the words on the page start to swim. I might force myself to sit down in the morning, but I stop when my body tells me to. I’ve never looked at a blank page. If I get stuck with something I’m working on I know the story isn’t fully developed in my head and I leave it and work on a different part of the story until the scene is clear to me.

Louise: Please give us a sneak peek at your future books. What’s on the horizon?

Rod: I’ve got a couple of projects I’m working on. One is a children’s story inspired by my son, who hasn’t slept through the night since we brought him home from the hospital. You can see his picture on the home page of my website. The other project is a fictionalized account of one of the most famous people who ever lived. I’d like to tell you more, but I need potential readers to be intrigued enough to visit my website again. The job of a storyteller, after all, is to keep the reader interested!

Louise: What is your favorite genre to read and who is your favorite author?

Rod: I don’t have a favorite genre or author. However, I do have favorite books. To Kill a Mockingbird and The Grapes of Wrath are two of them. Both of these stories were of great influence on my latest novel, Dinner with Lisa.

Louise: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?

Rod: If you like historical fiction, particularly novels like The Grapes of Wrath then Dinner with Lisa is for you. If you’re a deep thinker and want to be inspired try The Impact of a Single Event.

Louise: Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web?

Rod: I love to hear from readers so please feel free to send me an email if you have any questions. My author website is and my email is You can also find me on Facebook and I’ve also recently created a twitter account. I’m @RodPrendergast.
Louise: Rod, thank you for visiting with me today!

Readers, Rod is giving away an eBook of Dinner With Lisa to one lucky commenter! Let Rod know you stopped by, say hi or ask a question. 

Watch the Book Trailer on Youtube

Purchase links:

For the print version:

For electronic version:

For the Kindle:

For the Sony:

For the Nook: 



  1. Rod, thanks for visiting with me. Dinner With Lisa sounds very intriguing. My mother instinct kicked in while reading the sample. I was a single mom with 4 kids and I can't imagine what it would have been like to live during the depression.

  2. Nice blog.

    Stopping by from the list for the tour of SHADES OF MURDER. I will stop back when you have your review done. I have read the first two books of Lauren Carr's. You will love the characters and the storyline.

    Nice to meet you.

    Stopping by for a look around.



    Silver's Reviews

  3. Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by. I followed you back. I will also follow you under my book review blog - Bren's Book Reviews and add your web button on my blog's sidebar.