Monday, June 4, 2012

Meet Jason Whiteley, author of Father of Money

A week ago I posted a review of the book, Father of Money.  Father of Money is a memoir of Mr. Whiteley's time in Iraq where he worked as a liaison between the Iraqi people and the U.S. Army.  For the review you can go here.  Mr. Whiteley was gracious enough to give me an interview. 

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Beaumont, Texas and raised nearby, in Lumberton - a small southeast Texas town.  It was a great place to grow up; everyone treated you like family and no one locked their doors.  I still love going back there.

How and why did you attend West Point?

Almost accidentally.  I attended the West Point Academic Invitational after my junior year of high-school.  It was a one week camp for people who scored above a certain level on the PSAT. I did not like it. West Point seemed too cold, too gray, and too far away.

I applied to a number of Texas schools  and Georgetown University.  By May of my senior year in high school, I was accepted to all of my Texas choices, but Georgetown did not accept me.  In that moment, my Representative, Charles Wilson, called me and offered to appoint me to West Point.  I decided to give it another chance. It was the best decision I could have made.
The author with Ammar, one of his more colorful, if not volatile, translators

Any interesting tidbits about your military career (not just Iraq, your deployment to Honduras or any other place or experience not covered in your book-scariest thing that ever happened to you, craziest and so on) etc.

Father of Money is a fairly comprehensive account of my stories in Iraq, but there is one additional anecdote you may enjoy.  Our battalion executive office loved to hunt turkeys, and he was bemoaning the opening of Spring Turkey season while we were in Baghdad. One thing led to another and I accepted a challenge to find him a turkey.  As you might imagine, Baghdad was a violent place, devoid of order, but you could also find anything in the markets.  After an afternoon of gesturing and trying to describe a turkey, I finally found a guy selling one, along with a number of other strange animals.  He was happy enough to give him to me in exchange for a couple t-shirts and a soccer ball. 

When I showed up for dinner, with a live turkey, everyone had a good laugh.  We kept him as a mascot for the next few months.

How did you get the idea to write a book?

I started writing Father of Money soon after I returned from Baghdad.  However, I began to think about publishing it in 2007.  The news about the so-called surge in Iraq and the constant mischaracterization of our progress in Iraq convinced me that there was room in the debate for my perspective.  I maintained throughout my time in Iraq that the Iraqis preferred security to liberty and that the day the U.S withdrew would be the day Iraq celebrated its freedom.  (You can read my 2004 interview on that subject here:  I like to think that Father of Money conveys a message of humility and skepticism about the American ability to influence cultures by force.

Was it difficult to find an agent?

I sent a number of query letters, probably fifty, before David Fugate of Launch Books agreed to represent me.  Iraq literature saturated the market, and it was difficult for us to stand out and not be considered another war story.  Eventually, Potomac Books kindly agreed to publish Father of Money.

 Let me add my own two cents here. I've reviewed hundreds of books, including many nonfiction and military history stories. Father of Money is one of the best I've read. I know that war stories are saturating the market right now but this one should be at the top of your TBR pile or the book you give as a gift to people you know who enjoy this genre of literature.

Any other projects at the moment?

Yes, actually. I have written a children’s book entitled Escape From the Crooked Tree. It is an illustrated storybook of 2,500 words and 36 color illustration.  I hope that it is the first in a series that retells fishing mishaps from my childhood from the perspective of the lures.  I like to think of it as “Toy Story in a tackle box.”   Escape From the Crooked Tree is available from June 2012 on Amazon, B&N, or you get an autographed copy from

Also, I am fundraising for the second book in the Tales From the Tacklebox series, entitled the Hydrilla Clump and the Bigmouth Popper.  If we can raise enough money, we should have Hydrilla Clump out by the end of the year. The link is and the fundraising ends June 14, 2012, so if anyone would like a chance to become part of this series, I encourage them to check out the Kickstarter page.
Thanks so much, Jason, for sharing some of your life's experiences and info about the publishing world for the rest of us aspiring writers.  I wish you the very best in all your endeavors!

I will be posting a review of his children's book, Escape From the Crooked Tree in the weeks to come so stay tuned.

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent interview Sharon. Very interesting tidbits. One of the things I love in memoirs is the little anecdotes, not necessarily the big stories.

    Sara Blaedel | Danish Crime Writer


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