Last Sunday I bumped into Iris Smyles, the notoriously reclusive author of the new novel Iris Has Free Time, as she was leaving her favorite stationery store in New York City’s East Village. She growled and tried to move past me, but not before I persuaded her to answer five questions about the writing life.


What do you hate most about writing?

Sharpening my pencils.


What would you do if you were not a writer?

Sharpen someone else’s pencils.


If you were banished to a desert island and could take only three things with you, what would they be?

Two pencils. One sharpener.


What do you do when you’re not sharpening pencils?



How do you want to die?

With my pencils sharp.


Iris Smyles has written for numerous publications including Nerve, New York Press, McSweeney’s and BOMB. She was awarded The Doris Lippman Prize for fiction, The Adria Schwartz Fiction Award, The Geraldine Griffin Moore Short Story Award and is a frequent contributor to Splice Today. She lives in New York.

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Fiction Editor J. RYAN STRADAL's writing has also appeared in Hobart, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Rattling Wall, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Trop, and Joyland, among other places. His novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest is forthcoming in 2015 from Viking / Pamela Dorman Books.

2 Responses to “Iris Smyles: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. Sammy says:

    I agree that sharpening my pencils is what I hate most about writing, personally I have invested in a small electric pencil sharpener

  2. Matt says:

    Lots of pencils in this interview. :)

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