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Book Written by OU Professor Makes New York Times Bestseller List, to Become Amazon TV Series

Book Written by OU Professor Makes New York Times Bestseller List, to Become Amazon TV Series

portrait of Jennifer Lynn Barnes
book cover The Inheritance Games Jennifer Lynn Barnes

A young adult fiction book written by a University of Oklahoma faculty member recently was named a New York Times bestseller and will also serve as the basis for a television series in development at Amazon.

Associate professor Jennifer Barnes, who shares a joint appointment with the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she is part of the Professional Writing faculty, and the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, is author of The Inheritance Games, the first in a two-book series.

“We in Gaylord College couldn’t be happier for Jen,” said Ed Kelley, dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “She is a wonderful colleague and a mentor to many students. Her focus on them and their writing is an inspiration to everyone in the college.”

The first Inheritance Games book was published this month in the United States by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers and in the United Kingdom by Penguin Random House UK. Foreign rights have sold in more than 10 other countries.

The book is described by the publisher as an “utterly addictive and twisty thriller, full of dark family secrets and deadly stakes.”

The Amazon TV series based on Barnes’ book hails from Sony Pictures TV and Osprey Productions, which landed the rights to the books. Barnes will co-produce the adaptation.

The Inheritance Games is Barnes’ 21st novel, all of which are written for young adults. She wrote her first published novel while still a teenager and sold her first five while attending college. Within the young adult category, she has written across a wide variety of genres, including paranormal, science fiction, mystery, thriller and romance.

Barnes, who is a Robert Glenn Rapp Foundation Presidential Professor, runs a lab at OU dedicated to the study of psychology of fiction and fandom. She said that in both her psychology and writing classes, one of the things she enjoys most is “demonstrating to students that the boundaries between science and art are not as firmly drawn as they might think.”

“I teach my psychology students to use their individual artistic passions, as well as their experiences as consumers of fiction, to create their own ideas for psychology experiments,” she noted. “Conversely, I challenge my writing students to use psychology to create and execute stories that appeal to the human brain.”

An Oklahoma native, Barnes holds advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry and cognitive science, including a master of philosophy degree from Cambridge University, where she was a Fulbright Scholar, and a doctorate from Yale University.

In addition to writing young adult novels, she has written original television pilots for networks including USA and MTV.


By Jerri Culpepper

Article Published:  Wednesday, September 23, 2020