Deborah was born and raised in the city of Oxford until she was about 8 years old. She later moved to Vancouver, Canada where she decided to suppress her English accent in order to avoid being bullied. 
She grew up in a family of academics and scientists. 
During and after college, she had worked as a writer. She began her post-college career as an editor at The Threepenny Review, then earned an internship at Harper's Bazaar. At 23, Treisman became the editor of Grand Street, a now-defunct quarterly literary magazine.