The complex world of carbon trading and energy speculation might not seem, at first blush, to be fertile ground for a suspense novel. But it's familiar territory for writer Paul Schueller — who might not seem, at first blush, to be a likely candidate to write suspense.
Schueller is the founder and CEO of Port Washington-based Franklin Energy, a company that works to help utilities become more energy efficient and save consumers money. His novel, the first he's written, is called "The Squeeze," and features an intricate plot involving partners in a carbon trading business, a possible murder, and underhanded business dealings.
While Schueller himself has never engaged in the unethical practices he depicts, he says he and his company were once victims in a case where the perpetrators falsified records. But even if that hadn't happened, Schueller says, his career in the energy industry has given him more than enough insights — on how things could go wrong — to formulate a mystery novel.
"I think, like most other things," he says, "when you're close to it, you probably know better how to break rules and how to get by with things. I'm guessing a tax attorney or an accountant might be better at hiding things from a tax standpoint than I would be."
While "The Squeeze" is Schueller's first novel, writing has been part of his life for years. He says the more than 90,000 words that comprise the new book were, appropriately, squeezed in among all of his business responsibilities.
"It was mostly travel for work," he recalls. "And any setting where I was waiting for anything — so, a plane, a train, a meeting — I always had a pad of paper with me and I was in the habit of writing whenever I could."
While Schueller is pleased with the result and the feedback he's gotten so far, he says he's under no illusions that the book will be a commercial success.
"I looked at it as an opportunity to do something that I knew would be a failure," Schueller says. "And that meant something to me because I’m always on my adult children to try things, and if you fail, that’s the way it goes. And I thought this was a good opportunity to show ‘em that."