Mandy was born in 1960 in Levin, New Zealand. Her father, Kurt, was born in Vienna, Austria, and her mother, Barbara, in Zanzibar, East Africa. They met in Otaki, and spent most of their married life in Levin, where Mandy’s father established a clothing factory. She is the third child of four – with two sisters and one brother. They were raised with a strong sense of social justice – something her brother Nicky Hager has built on to become an internationally renowned investigative journalist, writer, and commentator. Her sister Debbie has a PhD in Health Promotion and lectures in Health Promotion at Auckland University, works tirelessly for abused and mentally ill women in Auckland, and her sister Belinda is a contemporary jeweller with an MA in Conservation Studies (Metalwork) who is currently living and working in Vienna.
Mandy is married to Brian, and has two adult children, Thom and Rose, and is a doting granny to Leo and Luna. She lives on an acre of land on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand.
She started her professional life as a teacher, before specialising in the teaching of people with learning difficulties. As well as her Teaching Diploma, she has an Advanced Diploma in Applied Arts (Writing) from Whitireia Polytechnic and a MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. She has also worked as a youth education officer, a research assistant, a tertiary-level writing tutor, and continues to work as a writing tutor, mentor and assessor, as well as a freelance writer. Her books have won several awards. In 2014 she was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, one of NZs oldest and most prestigious writing awards, which enabled her to spend 6 months living in Menton, in the South of France as she researched a new project. In 2015 she was awarded Writer in Residence at Waikato University, Hamilton, NZ., where she worked on the first draft of her historical novel for adults, Heloise (Penguin NZ, 2017.)
A strong desire to ‘say something’ through her writing permeates everything Mandy writes. She tries to convince others (and herself!) to remain hopeful in the face of daunting global issues. Her favourite quote, and the tenet by which she lives, comes from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”