Iris has the ability to remember random, trivial information about people from brief encounters because she's particularly observant. It is one of her awkward quirks that sometimes makes people uncomfortable. Particularly when they barely remember meeting her and she somehow managed to remember that they casually mentioned that they loved banana bread and she shows up a month later with a loaf of it "just because".
Iris is rather peculiar. She is somehow simultaneously extremely oblivious and oddly attentive. She might, perhaps, be completely oblivious to the fact that she is annoying someone or that a man is flirting with her, but she would also notice subtle details about a person such as how many sugars they take in their coffee or their preference in baked goods or even how they tie their ties. She is sweet and genuinely nice, always thinking the best of people despite the fact that she is constantly reading about how horrible people have been throughout history.
A creature of habit, she likes routine and easily falls into them. Because of this, she can struggle to be spontaneous and actually has a bit of anxiety about breaking routine. Whether it’s leaving work early to go to a movie or a regular customer not showing up. In all she’s just a socially awkward, genuinely sweet woman who loves books and baking and learning about history. Her love of Alexander the Great could be considered an obsession and she can get overly excited about various historical discoveries.
Born to a troubled teen mother who was at the time in court-ordered rehab, Iris was taken in by her aunt Virginia. Named for two influential women authors Iris Murdoch and Agatha Christie. At the time of her birth, her aunt was still a young woman herself, but also in a position of being the head of their small family. As such, she also ran the family bookshop and cafe in Angel Grove, an establishment that had been in the family for three generations.
Raised in the modestly sized apartment above the shop, Iris was a happy, if a bit peculiar as a child. Born with two color eyes--left eye blue, right eye green--she was a little self-conscious about her appearance after a few uncouth encounters with other children. Awkward and eager to please others, Iris was easily led on by other children and taken advantage of. Making meaningful friendships and relationships was a struggle as she didn’t entirely understand the way the world worked, finding it difficult to reconcile it with the way she imagined the world should work.
In fourth grade, after a trip to a history museum Iris came across a book on Alexander the Great in Aunt Virginia’s shop. Knowing that there was a man out there in the past who had eyes like hers and saw the world for what it could be, making it a reality, spoke to her on a level that very little else could. Rather than go out and spend time with children her own age, Iris would spend a lot of time in the shop reading.
In high school her friends were few and far between. She was more than content to count the school librarians as her friends. If any boys showed interest in her, she was painfully oblivious to the point that when asked to prom by a fairly popular boy, she thought that he was genuinely asking if she was going to prom and simply said “yes, are you going?”. Any attempts he made to hint that he wanted to go with her were lost on Iris and he eventually gave up after things got awkward and Iris started with her “did you know” routine.
After high school, Iris went to the local community college and took cooking classes. While she already knew how to cook, the classes were fun and gave her something to do that didn’t involve disappearing into the depths of the bookshop for days at a time. She never managed to get an actual degree but it was already a given that she would one day take over the bookshop and cafe for her aunt. Shortly after her twenty-first birthday, Iris’ aunt finally bought a house for herself, letting Iris take over one of the two apartments over the shop. Working as the manager for her aunt, and doing a lot of the cooking and baking.
Over the years since her graduation, Iris has attempted romantic relationships a time or two though things never ended well. For whatever reason, Iris was never really able to connect with people, or they just didn’t accept the fact that she wasn’t capable of being totally focused on a man and his life with her head whirling with stories from the past as well as stories of her own making. She was naturally distractible and could sometimes get stuck on an idea for days at a time, not really noticing much outside her daily routine. Unfortunately the men who attempted to woo her were the sort who needed a girl to pay attention to them and became resentful of her preoccupation with writing and history and whatever else caught her attention. It wasn’t that she was incapable of affection and actually she was a very attentive and sweet but did best with routine, very rarely veering toward spontaneous.
Years later, Iris still lived above the shop, bordering on thirty with various unpublished manuscripts ranging from her favorite genre of historical romance to fantasy. Many of them were only partially finished and cast aside but some were actually quite good. Iris was never really sure about publishing them and so just kept them stored in and around her apartment.