I Wrote The Ending First

Cortney Donelson Author Interview

The Billionaire’s List follows a reclusive author who is entangled in a murder mystery after the death of her uncle. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

During the 2020 pandemic lock-down, my family played a lot of MONOPOLY. And as anyone who has ever played that game knows, you can’t finish in just one sitting! When we rested between rounds, the board sat on a table in the corner of our family room. I kept looking at the board—the street names, the railroads, the jail, and Mr. Monopoly in the center—and I thought, “There’s a story here!” 

Unlike most writers, I wrote the ending first. Well, some of the ending. I knew one of the plot twists right off the bat. Since I new the ending, I worked backward (but forward on the board) to get to that fantastic ending and ensure each location was mentioned. I had a blast creatively incorporating some of the spots, such as the Chance and Community Chest cards and the railroads. 

I had no idea I had written a mystery until my first beta reader said, “I loved this mystery!”


“Well, you have dead bodies, and we don’t know who or why, so you have a mystery!” Since my primary initial objective was moving through the board game, I went back to add the mystery components—the red herrings and more suspense and surprise. I’ve never had more fun writing!

Greta Goldman is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

I have a lot of people in my life who live with neurodiversities, from autism to ADHD and more. Greta is a little bit of me and a lot of them. As with all good protagonists, there needs to be growth (or at least change). That was my goal. And those around her helped her along the way, even if some didn’t realize it. 

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The overarching themes are not your typical themes for mysteries. I spent a lot of my life living inside boxes. As I’ve gotten older, I realize the importance of stepping outside the lines and breaking a few rules. So the themes are goodness and redemption. We’re all given gifts—talents, wealth, time, and more—and it’s important we learn how to use them for the greater good. That’s what gives our lives purpose. But we also all make mistakes. That’s part of our humanity. It takes a good support system of family, friends, and even a little faith to right our wrongs and unleash that purpose.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m busy writing the PREquel to The Billionaire’s List. Most people who have read The Billionaire’s List are expecting a sequel. But I really need to dig into the past to help set the stage for the future. And, of course, I’m drumming up another jaw-dropping plot twist! I hope this next manuscript doesn’t take two-plus years.  My goal is to release it in late Winter 2024.

Author Links: Website | Amazon


Private and quirky, twenty-nine-year-old Greta Goldman is traveling to Atlantic City (the AC) to close out her great-uncle’s vast empire after his murder. As the named heir to the wealthiest and most well-known philanthropist in New Jersey, Greta—who hasn’t seen Great-Uncle Richard in eight years—must follow the billionaire’s list to settle his estate before she can return to her reclusive lifestyle.
Teaming up with attorney Brian Gogh, a perfect gentleman, Greta treks through the city, even as authorities reveal Great-Uncle Richard’s murder was perpetrated by a serial killer, one who continues to strike ultra-wealthy individuals. As the spree continues, Greta is determined to finish the list before fleeing to the safety of her home in North Carolina and forgetting the AC forever.

As she and Brian cross off each location, Greta’s heart transforms, especially after meeting her great-uncle’s best friend, Dawn Marshall. But will a friendship with Dawn and her budding relationship with Brian be enough to change Greta’s path? And who killed Great-Uncle Richard? Should Greta be worried for herself?

Complete with a twist, several turns, and intriguing characters, The Billionaire’s List is a creative and surprising mystery that will keep you asking . . . What will happen next?

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on December 18, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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