Native Coloradoan Debra Hall Ownbey — also known by her writing persona, Kaye Spencer (www.kayespencer.com) — lives in a small, rural town located in the heart of the infamous Dust Bowl area of the 1930s.
Debra grew up on a cattle ranch in Fort Morgan, Colorado, where she spent hours reading Louis L’Amour’s westerns, listening to Marty Robbins’ gunfighter ballads, and watching the old (now classic) television westerns and western movies. All of this inspired her love of the American Old West—truths and myths alike, which influenced her interest in all historical eras.
Teaching runs in her family. Her maternal grandmother was a second grade teacher who began her teaching career in a rural, one-room school house then she moved into town and taught in the larger school district. In addition to her cousin who was a teacher, Deb’s daughter is a junior high/high school science and math teacher. Debra has two sisters-in-law who are teachers, and her husband spent many years as a school board member. Deb’s educational background includes an AA in general studies with a business minor; a BA in elementary education with a psychology minor; an MA in Special Education mild/moderate needs; and a plethora of certifications.
Deb is retired from a career in education during which she had a wide and varied experience:
- K-12 special educator for students with learning disabilities
- 6th-12th English/language arts/history/reading teacher
- College freshmen-level public speaking, western civilization, English Comp I & II, sociology, psychology, creative writing
- K-12 principal
- K-12 school psychologist
- Director of Special Education for Southeastern Colorado Board of Cooperative Education Services (13 school districts)
A music lover, she tends to break into spontaneous singing from Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. The music from La bohème is often playing in the background, and her Yale Shakespeare is near at hand for reference and reading. She speaks ‘movie lines’, especially from her favorite movie, The Princess Bride. Her two favorite books are The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.
She enjoys being a full-time writer, a spoiler of grandchildren, having her canine companions underfoot, and her feline boarders ignoring her until the refrigerator door opens. She is afflicted with ACD — accumulative cat disorder with no cure in sight.
Debra is an armchair history researcher, and she tweets daily history trivia as ‘@ kayespencer’ as well as tweeting as ‘@ dhownbey’.