Oblivious Optimists & Wet Laundry: An Interview with Trinkets Author Kirsten Smith


Let’s talk about that first moment you realized that one of the woman responsible for some of the most formative movies of your childhood—we’re talking 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s The Man and Legally Blonde to name a few. Then, let’s talk about the moment that comes next: When you realize she’s just put a book out. And it’s about three very different teenagers. And shoplifting. We’re pretty sure that moment is called “euphoria”.

In Trinkets, poet-cum-screen writer-cum-novelist Kirsten Smith tells the story of klepto friends Elodie and Tabitha, who meet their match in self-proclaimed “bad girl” Moe at Shoplifting Anonymous meetings. The trio treats the world as their grab bag in a “steal-off” race. Adventure obviously ensues. We sat down with Smith to talk inspiration, Anna Faris, and of course, the five-finger discount.

When did you first start writing creatively?

 Around age 4?  I was an only child who lived on a sailboat with no TV, so books and stories and imaginary friends were my companions.

What kinds of characters do you feel most excited and ignited by?

 I’m excited by underdog characters. I love oblivious optimists: girls (and boys) who are slightly delusional and believe they are destined for something great, even if the rest of the world can’t see it.

How do you develop your stories? Is it plot first, characters first or world/environment first and then where do you go from there?

 It’s always best to start with a clear character with a strong point of view.  And the circumstance they’re in. With House Bunny, Anna Faris had this character in her mind of a Playboy Bunny who’d gotten kicked out of the Mansion for being too old.  She told my writing partner Karen and i the idea over coffee and then we had to figure out the rest of the movie. Anna had a pitch that she’d end up on crack somewhere in a small town, but that’s because she is a twisted, twisted girl.

For Trinkets specifically, where did you draw inspiration for these total awesome weirdo girl characters of yours?

I had certain familiarity with the five-finger discount and I always thought it would be exciting if I were to actually commit a major heist. Like an armored truck robbery or something. I also had this fantasy that there was a Shoplifter’s Anonymous group where I could meet my fellow heist-ers. Fortunately, I decided that might be better as a work of fiction than as truth, so I started thinking about a movie version instead. Then, I realized I totally sucked at plotting heists and that it might be playing more to my strengths to write it as a story about friendship instead of an epic robbery.

You seem to take an overall interest in high school and college age kids and their inter-relationships—what is it about that age that you find so compelling?

 I feel like I’m still emotionally very teen-y and trying to figure my shit out.  When the movie Young Adult was about to come out, my friends would joke that we should scale the side of Paramount studios and replace Charlize Theron’s face with a photo of my head since her character was dressed basically like I dress every day.  I don’t think this was meant as a compliment.

Uh, so, how cool is Anna Faris?

 The coolest.  And the kindest.

In honor of one of our all-time favorites and our soon-to-be favorites, can you please share with us 10 Things You’d Hate To Shoplift?

1. Worms
2. A python
3. Leaky canned tuna
4. A cactus
5. A baby
6. A toilet
7. Milk with a hole in the carton
8. Wet laundry
9. A rake
10. Anything in front of a plainclothes detective