Award Winning Historian and Novelist
Dude or Die
Sequel to the award-winning Dudes Rush In.
It’s 1954, and San Francisco writer Phoebe Kelley is enjoying the success of her first novel, Lady in the Desert. When her sister-in-law asks her to return to Tribulation, Arizona to help run the H Double Bar dude ranch, Phoebe doesn’t hesitate.
There’s competition from a new dude ranch this year, so the H Double Bar puts on a rodeo featuring a trick rider with a mysterious past. When accidents begin to happen around the ranch, Phoebe jumps in to figure out why, and confronts an unexpected foe.
“Dude or Die is charming and fun. It will keep you turning the page.” – Cowgirl Magazine
Dudes Rush In
It’s 1952, and restless war widow Phoebe McFarland decides to change her life and leave her home in San Francisco to spend six months on her sister-in-law’s dude ranch in Tribulation, Arizona. But Tribulation soon lives up to its name when secrets from the town’s past collide with a shocking revelation of her own, leading Phoebe down a trail to both discovery and danger.
Winner of the Will Rogers Medallion Award and first place for Arizona Historical Fiction, New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards
American Dude Ranch: A Touch of the Cowboy and the Thrill of the West
The dude ranch is America’s original Western vacation, and in this book, I trace the history and cultural importance of this buckaroo getaway: food, clothing, movies, literature, and the role of women in ranching.
“A well-researched study that successfully captures the allure, and the myths, of the West.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Without a doubt, if you love the popular history of the Wild West you will want to read American Dude Ranch.” – True West Magazine
Finalist for the Next Generation INDIE Book Award in Nonfiction
As San Francisco recovered from the earthquake and fire of 1906, dust and ask filled the city’s stuffy factories, stores, and classrooms. Dr. Philip King Brown noticed rising tuberculosis rates among the women who worked there, and he knew there were few places where they could get affordable treatment. In 1911, with the help of wealthy society women like Phoebe Apperson Hearst, and his accomplished wife Helen, Brown opened the Arequipa Sanatorium in Marin County. Together, Brown and his all-female staff gave new life to hundreds of working-class women suffering from tuberculosis in early 20th century California.
“Downey wished to breathe life into the stories of the many people whose lives intersected at Arequipa. She achieved her goal.” – Journal of Arizona History
Winner of The WILLA Literary Award for Scholarly Nonfiction from Women Writing the West.