About Inheritance Games:
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why—or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.
To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch—and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
The Inheritance Games will captivate readers with not one, not two, but three mysteries—all interwoven in one masterful, satisfying thriller. The puzzle-filled family estate, privileged and complicated family, and fish-out-ofwater protagonist all make this tension-filled page-turner positively unputdownable. The saga will continue in fall 2021 with a sequel that expands Avery’s story and introduces new mysteries.
Interview with Jennifer Lynn Barnes:
Aurora: What was your inspiration behind The Inheritance Games?
Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Shortly after I graduated college, my parents started designing their dream house. They asked me if I had any requests, and I had exactly one: a secret passage. My dad spent years sketching out every detail of their house, and the first time I walked through it, I was overcome with this sense that there was so much of him in every little detail of the design. There is indeed a secret passage, and my writerly mind started churning with the idea of an elaborate mansion that captured the same feeling I had seeing “my” secret passage for the first time, but to an exponential degree. Bigger. More elaborate. Filled with secret passages, hidden rooms, puzzles, riddles, and codes. For years, I wanted to write what I called my “puzzle house” book, but it didn’t have characters or a plot yet.
Then, one day I was brainstorming ideas for a completely different book—specifically, I was brainstorming a list of things that could happen to make an ordinary person famous overnight. I spent two or three days thinking up possibilities, when I came up with “famous billionaire dies and leaves everything to a total stranger.” I fell absolutely in love with the idea, but knew immediately that it wasn’t right for the story I’d been working on. Eventually, I set that book aside, turned my attention to The Inheritance Games, and realized that it was the perfect set-up to finally write my puzzle house book! Thus, the premise “famous billionaire dies and leaves everything to a total stranger” became “famous billionaire dies and leaves everything to a total stranger, but to inherit she has to move into his sprawling, secret-passage-filled mansion alongside the family he just dispossessed.”
What character do you most relate to and why?
I definitely relate the most to my protagonist, Avery. I think a lot of people have moments in life, either good or bad, where they think “why me?” That’s the question driving Avery as she begins to unravel the book’s overarching mystery: why did Tobias Hawthorne leave her his fortune? Avery is torn between wanting to believe that she is special, feeling like she’s not, and an awareness that there is nothing she could have possibly done to deserve what she’s been given. I know all of those feelings very well.
Why do you feel books with powerful and relatable characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
In my day job, I’m a professor who studies the psychology of fiction and the imagination. One of the most amazing things about fiction is that it can fulfill real social needs. There’s a construct that psychologists call the “need to belong.” We want to feel like we belong. We want to form connections. We want to find our people. Research by scholars like Jonathan Cohen, Jaye Derrick, and Shira Gabriel, among others, suggests that fictional characters (and fictional groups) can provide that sense of belongingness. So I think we love relatable characters because we can form relationships with them, and those relationships not only feel real, but can deliver some of the same psychological benefits as close friendships in the real world. In terms of the appeal of powerful characters, I suspect that we are, as a species, hard-wired to pay attention to status, hierarchy, and moments in time when power is in flux.
Please describe the content of The Inheritance Games and what can readers expect from the read.
The Inheritance Games is the story of an eccentric, puzzle-obsessed billionaire who leaves pretty much his entire fortune to a teenage girl he’s never met. She has no idea why he left her billions and soon finds herself in the crosshairs of his family, including his four very attractive grandsons, one of whom is convinced she is his grandfather’s final puzzle, an elaborate riddle to be solved, and another of whom sees her as a con-woman who needs to be taken down. The book features three interwoven mysteries, a twisted family of dispossessed billionaires, tight-knit brotherly bonds, secret passages, hidden tunnels, high society, secrets, scandals, and a whole host of puzzles, riddles, and codes for readers to solve.
What’s next for you in the book world?
I just finished the first draft of the second Inheritance Games book. There is so much that I love about it, but almost nothing I can actually say without spoiling book one!
Who is your favorite writer right now and why?
Questions like this one are always so hard for me to answer, because I can never zero in on just one author! The three books I’ve found most absorbing in the past year were Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black, and On The Come Up by Angie Thomas. My auto-buy list of authors (where I will buy and read every book) is really long and includes, among others, Kelley Armstrong, Marie Lu, and Allison Brennan. My favorite books by debut authors this year were A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy and Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan.
In terms of why I love the authors I love, I’m really drawn to stories that focus on power and power games, complicated familial relationships, highly intelligent and strategic characters, characters who are underestimated (often, though not exclusively, for being female), and worlds that feel special, either because of magic or because they’re set in the real world, but feel magical nonetheless.
About the Author:
Jennifer Lynn Barnes has written more than a dozen acclaimed young adult novels, including Little White Lies, Deadly Little Scandals, The Lovely and the Lost, and The Naturals series: The Naturals, Killer Instinct, All In, Bad Blood, and the e-novella, Twelve. Jen is also a Fulbright Scholar with advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive science. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2012 and is currently a professor of psychology and professional writing at the University of Oklahoma. You can find her online at www.jenniferlynnbarnes.com or follow her on Twitter @jenlynnbarnes.