Bill Penoyar worked for the US Agency for International Development in Iraq during 2009–2010. He assisted the US reconstruction efforts in Anbar, Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil Provinces during his fifteen months in country. He also served as the USAID adviser for the Regional Threat Team, Strategic Operations Directorate, in support of the United States Forces-Iraq J3 Directorate from August 2009 – April 2010. While working with the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team and US Marines at the Forward Operating Base, Camp Baharia near the Anbar provincial town of Fallujah in 2009, he learned about the rumors of Uday Hussein’s activities at the former palatial lake resort that was located in the same area prior to the war. Surviving Dreamland was inspired by what Bill saw there. The novel began as a creative outlet to while away time in his small container housing unit room when he wasn’t working with his ePRT colleagues and Marines on visits to Fallujah and the nearby villages to assist Iraqis with economic and agricultural development, and governance.
Many of the characters represented in Surviving Dreamland were based on Iraqi, Iraqi-American, and US military colleagues whom he worked with or met in the course of his work. The description of locations which he wrote about were influenced by what he observed while traveling around the country. Some of the characters were also inspired by an Iraqi family whom Bill met while working in Iraq and sponsored when they immigrated to the United States.
Bill worked in international development for more than 30 years and in more than twenty countries on short- or long-term assignments as a foreign service officer. When home was far away, he wrote for enjoyment and, hopefully, for the entertainment or enlightenment of others. On the Road with a Foreign Service Officer was published as an e-book with Amazon in 2014, and FEDSPEAK: U.S.Contracting and Grantsmanship Made Easier was published and had limited distribution in 1985.