Returning to her native Virginia, she began to spend afternoons at the local library reading all the fantasy she could get her hands on. Soon she was inspired to begin a fantasy novel of her own, and so began her career as a fantasy author. She has written The Spellkey, The Glass Salamander, and The Books of the Keepers.
Ms. Downer combines her writing with a full-time career as a science editor at a university press. She lives with her husband, their son, and a large marmalade cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.