Tony Maniaty was born to a Greek father and an Anglo-Australian mother. His early life was spent in and around the family's corner stores.
During his Cold War childhood in Queensland he dreamed of escaping to foreign lands and becoming a writer. From 1967 he worked as a radio and television journalist for ABC News, Radio Australia, SBS Australia, Visnews, the BBC World Service and Monitoradio in the United States.
Maniaty's coverage of the political turmoil and fighting in Timor in 1975 inspired his first novel, The Children Must Dance (1984). His travels in Turkey and Greece formed the basis for Smyrna (1989).
He became Senior Advisor on Programme and Policy Development for ABC News and Current Affairs, as well as Communication Manager with the Australia Council for the Arts. Maniaty has also worked as screenwriter, photographer and reviewer.