M. Ullrich interviews Brit Ryder:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions and for writing a story that's sure to be responsible for an added heat wave this summer. Your first erotic novella is here, and let me say, it’s incredible. You had my attention from page one and left me wanting more in the end. “Shameless” introduces us to Emery, a sexy fire investigator whose eyes are on sex-only relationships, which leads her to Lily and an encounter at an art museum. I feel safe in saying Brit Ryder just delivered a new fantasy for many readers.
Tell us a bit about “Shameless” and what inspired you to write such a delicious erotic short.
As Brit Ryder, I wanted to go beyond romance and push myself out of the Kris Bryant comfort zone. I wanted to write something raw, yet entertaining. Sex is so much fun to write, but it’s hard for me to incorporate toys and lust while keeping the sweet mood of romance. I decided to take my writing a giant step further and make it more about the need to just fuck, instead of the normal romance arc of meeting, dating for a few months, then falling in love, then finally sex toward the end of the book. Thus, Brit Ryder was born. She could go there right away and cover topics that Kris Bryant wouldn’t.
I’ve certainly gained a new appreciation for art galleries since reading “Shameless,” and I suspect I won’t be alone. What made you use a gallery as the setting for your short story? Did you have a particular gallery in mind as you wrote?
Galleries are so prim, proper, and quiet. I wanted to put two people in that environment and build the tension up. I wanted to upset the balance. A lot of this story is about control. Self-control and the control of a situation. We want to lose control, but we want to do it on our own terms. We want to touch things we aren’t supposed to touch. We want to push buttons that say do not push. New jar of peanut butter? We want to be the first to stick our finger in it and scoop it out. There is a sense of victory in getting away with something we aren’t supposed to do. Personally, I want to touch everything at a museum. I love art. I wish I could touch something an artist created hundreds of years ago, but I can’t. Everywhere you turn, you see Do Not Touch signs.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is a huge museum and I based the novella on that. All of those rooms are there and they will never be the same for me now either. Phew. I’m going to expect a really good time the next time I visit!
First erotic novella and a stellar one at that. What does the future hold for Brit Ryder?
If this is a success, then I will definitely pursue another one. I have an idea already, but I want to make sure my first one is well received before I spend the time and effort on another erotica piece.
I believe there’s an important balance needed to write successful erotica. While a reader tunes in mostly for the sex, emotions allow for more depth and connection. Did you find meeting those needs difficult as you wrote “Shameless”?
When I turned in my first draft, my editor told me I needed to add more emotions. I thought, Why? This is about sex. Why do I need to cover emotions? I have very little experience with erotica having only read a handful of erotic shorts in my life. Then I sat back and thought about the different emotions involved when love isn’t present. That’s hard to do. It’s actually a delicate balance of so many other emotions that I don’t normally consider when writing romance. There is power when love isn’t present. Yes, it’s there with love, but I’m talking about a different kind of power. There’s power in submission and in domination. It’s more about the need to control and the selfishness associated with self-gratification. There’s a hint of humiliation. There is also trust. Even though my characters don’t know each other well, trust is a very big part of the story.
“Shameless” tells the story of Emery and Lily, two very different women who are looking for the same thing: no-strings-attached sex. The story is written from Emery’s point of view, but I have to ask—was this sexy, confident character as fun for you to write as she was for us to read?
I loved writing Emery. She’s everything I am not. She’s butch, confident, sexy, and a total top. She’s a take-control kind of woman, but also laid back. She’s not pushy or rushed. She’s cool and collected. I would definitely meet her at the museum.
As you developed the storyline for “Shameless,” did you catch yourself thinking beyond The End? Are the possibilities for your characters’ futures still dancing around in your imagination?
I love my characters and it was hard to say good-bye, but I think the story wraps up nicely. I think Emery got what she wanted, and then some. I think it would be hard to pursue writing a romance or even another work of erotica about her because anything pre-Shameless would not have a happy ending, and anything post-Shameless would kind of kill the fantasy of it all.
What do you believe makes for good erotica?
I love it when characters in books have sex. I love the build-up, I love being in the moment. I love feeling my pulse race and getting so caught up in and with them. There is a level of voyeurism in reading. You, the reader, are witnessing a scene between two people who are engaging in sex—whether love is present or not—and nobody knows what you are reading. You can be sitting at the airport reading a sex scene that’s making you squirm because it’s turning you on and the person sitting next to you has no idea what’s happening. There’s a thrill in that. I love it when I read a scene in a book and my body swells because it’s written so well that I feel like I’m right there in the action. Good erotica will take you there. It will make you step away from the book because you need to take a deep breath or excuse yourself so you can have a moment alone. It is designed to turn you on. It is written for your pleasure.
Even in contemporary romances, I feel a little shy when thinking about certain readers diving into my sex scenes. As you made the decision to write erotica, was there a moment of nervousness or sense of exposure involved before submitting “Shameless” to Bold Strokes Books?
Not when I was writing it. The nervousness came after they accepted it and agreed to publish it. I’m completely vulnerable at this moment. I even chose a pen name because I wanted my readers to know that I, Kris Bryant, wrote this, BUT, and a very big BUT, it’s different than my sweet and steamy romances. I wanted to put the word erotica across the top in giant letters, but Bold Strokes Books was, like, no. Just relax. It will be fine. I also kept Kris Bryant on the cover because there are some of my readers who really enjoy my romantic sex scenes and this gives them a lot more. I’m nervous, but I’m not ashamed. Everybody is different in the bedroom. I think erotica opens the door for some readers who would never do these things in the bedroom (or kitchen, or on the dining room table, or up against the wall), but who secretly enjoy reading and wondering what it would be like.
Best and worst places to read erotica?
Best place? Anywhere you can steal a quiet moment away from the world. Worst place? Church. An Airplane. Work.
Note from M. Ullrich: I read it at work and I agree, not the best place.
Is a certain mindset needed for you to produce erotica? Or is it the same as writing any genre?
I truly have to knock down my walls and go there in order to write erotica. I have to not think about love and sweet kisses and all the feels that I normally have when I write as Kris Bryant. I have to get out of my comfort zone and say things that I would never say in my romances. I can go there in my mind as Brit Ryder because she’s confident and knows the kind of sex she wants and wants to share with readers.
Tell us something about yourself that readers may be surprised by.
I never, ever make the first move.
And lastly, do you think your story would make the Mona Lisa smile?
After reading “Shameless,” she would be known as the Moaning Lisa. Just teasing. I think it would definitely make her blush. Or maybe not. We really know so very little about her. Women! Hard to read sometimes.