My inspiration for Prattleton stemmed from the idea of a sweet young lady who is unfairly gossiped about by a large portion of a little town. I wanted to illustrate the particularly feminine foibles of being overly interested in their neighbors’ lives, speculative about others’ business or affairs, and being suspicious of anyone who doesn’t exactly fit into their own niche group.
When I got started on this story idea, it went from more serious to far more fun quickly, and quite suddenly became an obvious candidate for a chatty hearsay-style narrative. I had fun trying to get into that gabby role as I wrote, though playing at a benevolent busy-body rather than anything close to a vicious gossip. This writing role was a personality departure for me, since I’m a ‘keep to myself’ ‘out of the loop’ type of person.
The story’s town seemed to beg being somewhat backward in its own unique snobbishness. Early on, the town hinted of being spring up from an original Englishman of nobility, Mr. Prattle, and so the English Village of a sort, transplanted out west, was born.
A mere mention of my general idea to my daughter Brina, and her perfect sketch was created. Some of her wonderful work and a few tweaks later (a few based on my hopeful suggestions), and the cover was done as you see here. A close-up of the three gossipy females in the background shows a slight cartoonish style, which mimics the sometimes silly tone of the story and characters, many persons of whom are given silly names that are in similitude of their personalities and behaviors. Charles Dickens is the great inspiration there, for he amassed many unusual, strange or funny names that told a good deal for a goodly portion of his story characters.
As to my novel covers so far, as done by one or both of my daughters, I generally verbalize a sketchy idea of my own, and then they either improve on my thoughts or come up with something entirely different and better. The Prattleton cover art is quite like I imagined in the first place, except that the layout is far better than the initial less dynamic image in my head.
Of course there is a fairly strong romantic thread in this story, and the female lead, the innocent Charity who suffers the brunt of the town’s gossip, gets her good man and happiness in the end. I don’t prefer to write anything but a happy ending, and my readers would likely scold me if I disappointed them with otherwise. I always rewrote sad endings into happy ones in my mind. I believe in happy endings. And so, this sweet Charity, who’s likeness exudes angelic qualities in my own view, receives her heavenly ending after some hellishness in Prattleton.