Brian Boyd, Editor, Shore Publishing/Zip06.com
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Branford native Ryan Bloomquist (left) has co-authored a new book with his friend, Sam Gold (right) based on their popular podcast. The book is Riverdish: The Unauthorized Case Files of Riverdale (Dey Street Books). (Photo courtesy of Ryan Bloomquist )
Riverdish: The Unauthorized Case Files of Riverdale co-authored by Branford native Ryan Bloomquist. )
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On May 7, Branford native Ryan Bloomquist will officially welcome the publication debut on Tuesday, May 7 of Riverdish: The Unauthorized Case Files of Riverdale, a new book he co-authored with his friend, Sam Gold.
“I’ve always written for pleasure on the side, and kind of had a little bit of a side dream of writing a book someday. But by no means did I ever expect it to come around like this,” says Ryan.
The book comes out of Ryan’s three years, and counting, of producing a podcast, Riverdish, based on the trials and tribulations of the characters in The CW Network TV show, Riverdale.
Podcast fans who follow Riverdish will likely snap up in the new book, published by HarperCollins imprint Dey Street Books (and available on Amazon). But Ryan certainly found his earliest fans in Branford—and not only because the Branford High School (BHS) Class of 2011 graduate starred in BHS spring musical productions, including his memorable role as the Phantom of the Opera (2011).
With his childhood friend Greg Nobile (now a Tony-winning Broadway producer), Ryan founded a grassroots Branford non-profit, the Lemonade Gang. Starting when they were about seven years old and into their early 20s, the two produced popular, Branford-based annual musical shows to raise money for research to fight childhood diseases.
Now an actor and vocalist based out of New York City, Ryan has appeared regionally in musical shows across the country. He’s a graduate of New York University Tisch’s New Studio on Broadway and was a finalist in NY Music Festival’s “Next Broadway Sensation” competition.
Ryan spoke with Zip06/The Sound during a phone interview on April 17, just ahead of heading out to the publishing offices of HarperCollins to get his first glimpse of his first book. Like the podcast, the book puts fans on an inside track that Ryan and Sam have forged in three years of comedic commentary, highlighting connections and inroads they’ve developed with the show. They’ve delved into the many mysteries and crimes hitting Riverdale and its ensemble cast of characters, based on the Archie comics series. They’ve also forged an important friendship with a cast member and podcast guest, Casey Cott, who plays Kevin Keller in Riverdale.
Ryan says the idea for the podcast came up after he and Sam watched the pilot together in 2017, and were discussing it over lunch.
“We fell in love with the show, and had a feeling this is going to be one of those shows that blows up into something massive with this young audience base who would listen to a podcast,” he recalls, adding that, thanks to an errant waiter causing a long (and slightly liquified) lunch, they decided they would leave the restaurant and start their podcast that afternoon.
Back at Ryan’s apartment, they hit the record button, and their own podcast recap show, which they christened Riverdish, was born.
“After that, we started doing the podcast every episode,” says Ryan. “We sit down together, we have a guest on, we share some wine, and we gab about what happened on the latest episode.”
Ryan and Sam (a talent manager and producer) helped build a fan base for their podcast by reaching out to guest commentators, including some with significant social media followings, who would often make a mention of joining the podcast to their followers.
“We were kind of growing steadily, and increasing” listenership, says Ryan. “And then last season, we had one of the main cast members on, Casey Cott, who plays Kevin. Once we had him on, our podcast blew up into something bigger than we ever expected [and] it turned into one of the top recap podcasts of Riverdale today.”
One of the things Ryan says they certainly didn’t expect next was to be contacted by HarperCollins about a book deal, he adds.
But sure enough, last year, “one day in my inbox, I got a message from an editor at HarperCollins. They were big fans of the podcast at the office, and they wanted to know if we wanted to write Riverdale fan companion piece. We said, ‘Absolutely!’ Then the reality hit of actually writing a book,” he says, laughing.
Last fall, to further foster their research into all things Riverdale, the publishing house sent Ryan and Sam up to visit the show, which is taped in Vancouver, Canada.
“That was a major perk of writing the book,” says Ryan. “We actually went up to Vancouver, and we’ve become friendly with Casey, so he was able to give us a full tour of all the sets. The book has all of the photos that we took on that trip, so you’re kind of going to see the set like no one else has before.”
The best part of the trip, for Ryan, was spending some time with his favorite campy character of the cast, “Nana” Rose Blossom, played by venerable character actress Barbara Wallace.
“She is a formidable actress,” says Ryan. “In Riverdale, she has very few lines and she appears quite infrequently, but every time she’s on screen, I am totally enraptured. She gets wheeled out in a wheelchair, and speaks in this creaky, spooky voice, and everything she says is iconic.”
He thanks Cott for making the introductions.
“Casey was so gracious—he said let me know if there’s anyone you want to meet or talk to,” says Ryan. “I was like, ‘Listen—I would fly across the world just to speak with Barbara Wallace.’ So she had a glass of red, I had a [wine spritzer], and we chatted about life and the show—weirdly, over the Mamma Mia soundtrack that was playing at the restaurant.”
Speaking of musicals, Riverdale’s seasonal musical episodes are Ryan and Sam’s favorite part of the series, he says.
“They’ve been doing a musical episode every season, and that’s always special for us, being musical theater fans, and it’s so cool that the show has embraced that,” says Ryan. “This season [March 2019], they did Heathers [the Musical]. So we had some actors from the original company on the podcast, and we had the writers from Heathers the Musical come on.”
One of the benefits of having done the research to complete the book is that now, as they follow Season Three of Riverdale, Ryan and Sam are seeing their book in action as a companion to the show.
“This another part of my life that I never thought would happen—that all of the sudden I would be some sort of authority on this CW show,” says Ryan. “But we’ve spent so much time watching the episodes now, especially in the process of writing, and in going back and re-watching, and going up to Vancouver to visit the set, that it’s funny to watch it now. And as we’ve been watching Season Three, which is airing right now, all of these things make so much sense to us, because we’ve been so in the world of Riverdale!”
That said, there’s no way to completely figure out what’s going to happen with the hit show, and that’s one of the reasons he and Sam are such fans, he adds.
“At some points we can say, ‘Oh, we were definitely on to that.’ And then there’s these twists that you just never see coming,” he says.
For those who don’t follow Riverdale on the CW, “after it airs on the CW, they put it on Netflix,” Ryan notes. “So a whole new audience that maybe doesn’t have cable will be able to watch it now. And for those that have been following along, and listening to the podcast, hopefully the book will provide something to tide people over as they wait for the next season.”
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