Born in 1944 in Tennessee, William A. Wheatley spent the next eleven years in Mexico, where his engineer father was building power plants. His grandmother and his mother, both teachers, gave him a good education. The family moved to Dothan, Alabama in 1955, where his father worked as an engineer with the Corps of Engineers at Fort Rucker.
As a boy, he read all the books in his family's library, which included all the classics. He read Forster's Lieutenant Hornblower serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1951, dreaming of becoming a naval officer on a sailing frigate. He also read Ian Fleming's first two James Bond books - Casino Royale and Live and Let Die, enjoying them immensely. He noted that Bond was both a spy and a Navy commander and determined to follow a similar path.
While in high school, he took a geology course at the local community college, learning to read and analyze the aerial photography used in geological mapping. He enrolled at Rice University as an architecture student and joined the Navy ROTC unit.
The Cuban Missile Crisis broke out in his freshman year, and the Navy sent him to Guantanamo for two weeks to analyze aerial photos, which started his career with the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). After college, he was commissioned and sent to Camp Peary, the CIA spy school, and then he was seconded to the CIA. In civilian life he was an architect/construction manager, often on troubled projects in interesting parts of the world, cover for intelligence operations.
He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Giovanna, and continues working and writing. His sons and grandchildren live in Houston. He travels whenever possible, enjoying especially visits to his wife's family in Italy.