An award-winning author from Inverness, Cape Breton, has struck a deal to turn one of his books into a TV series for NBC's streaming service, Peacock.
Tom Ryan's teen thriller, Keep This to Yourself, was published in 2019. It's about five teens who get caught up in a mysterious whodunit after a killer terrorizes their sleepy seaside town.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I'm endlessly grateful to all of the people who've worked on this project," Ryan said.
The book caught the attention of a California-based producer, Cheryl Bayer, at a book signing in Washington in 2019. She wanted to turn Ryan's novel, which stars a gay teen, into a series after reading it in one night.
Bayer is a former casting director for That 70s Show, where she met Wilmer Valderrama who played Fez on the show. She brought the book to his production company, WV Entertainment, and together they spent a few years trying to find a home for it.
Tplus, a Latin-centric division of Telemundo, a Spanish language network under the NBC umbrella, happened to be looking for a project like this.
"What it really comes down to is the right place at the right time," said Ryan.
Bayer is mentoring Ryan and wants him directly involved in the production process. Ryan is one of the head writers, a co-creator and executive producer for the show.
"I'm learning everything from all angles, it's such an amazing opportunity," he said. "More than that, it's a lot of fun. I'm working with really smart, intelligent, talented, creative, enthusiastic people."
Ryan said Bayer particularly appreciated Keep This to Yourself for its characters and compelling plot.
"It's a teen thriller, and teen thrillers are really hot right now. So, there's kind of a sweet spot in the market for this sort of story," he said.
Although the book is set in Maine, the production is set outside Miami. The characters in the novel are being reimagined as Latin-American, but the story will remain the same. The production will be primarily a Latin cast, but set in English.
Ryan, who divides his time between Cape Breton and Halifax, was born and raised in Inverness County.
Kate Beaton's children's book, The Princess and the Pony, is also being adapted into a series. Beaton is also from Inverness County, which has a population of around 17,000.
"Inverness County, Cape Breton, generally, just the Maritimes, we create storytellers," said Ryan. "I think the fact that people outside our region are starting to notice is just fantastic and hopefully we'll create opportunities for other young writers and storytellers," he said.
Ryan would not say exactly how much he made in his deal with NBC.
"I will say this much, Hollywood pays better than publishing," he said.
Production on Keep This to Yourself should begin in September and will be aired either in late 2022 or early 2023.
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