A Canadian, Matas was born on November 14, 1949, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She grew up with parents who read to her frequently, and Matas looked forward to reading on her own. Though reading was very important, a new interest took hold of her; she wanted to be an actor. Taking acting classes, Matas also delved into literature and earned a degree in English. Reading Shakespeare fascinated her as much as acting in productions. Pursuing her dream, Matas graduated from the University of Western Ontario and traveled to London, England's Actor's Lab where she spent two years studying.
Leaving London, she returned to Canada to be a professional actor. With the ups and downs of sometimes finding work, Matas took to writing in her spare time as a hobby. Only after she needed to take a break from acting to have her first child did Matas put much emphasis on writing. She created a fantasy book that went unpublished, but she gained needed support and constructive criticism for her next attempt from George Szanto at McGill University. He tutored Matas and helped her develop a way of writing that worked for her. Draft after draft Szanto instructed and Matas improved. When she sent her manuscript out to publishers, she received one rejection after another. As the manuscript was making the rounds of publishing houses, Matas came upon another book idea. She finished this novel called The D.N.A. Dimension
and searched for a publisher for both manuscripts.
Frustrated with writing, a turning point in her career came when a Canadian publisher accepted one of her short stories. Though never printed, this success gave Matas encouragement to keep trying. Eventually her science fiction books, four in all, saw publication. Then when Matas listened to her husband's stories of his Danish youth and the roles of his father and grandfather in the Danish Underground, Matas felt intrigued. A story line developed after a friend introduced them to a book about how Denmark saved almost all of its Jewish inhabitants from the Nazis in World War II. As a Jew, Matas was stunned she had never heard of this before, and after much research and the incorporation of impressive details, Lisa's War
was written and published.
The Canadian press was somewhat impressed by Matas's work, but when the publisher Macmillan bought it for United States publication and the New York Times
gave it a rave review, Matas's writing career took off. She has since penned more stories about World War II and the Holocaust, fantasy novels, and historical events. Matas desires to entertain as much as she believes in provoking her readers to think for themselves as she produces images and consequences they may have never encountered before. An award-winning author of books such as Code Name Kris
, Daniel's Story
, and After the War
, Matasis currently lives in Winnipeg and is working on another book about a psychic teenager.
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