The Lightning Room With Emma Smith-Stevens

Emma Smith-Stevens, author of Anthem, threatened in a field of shitty tattoos makes you a mix-tape of New York.

1. Have you ever had a nickname?

I had a totally dorky, self-inflicted nickname in high school. While the banks and the Internet survived Y2K, thankfully my nickname did not.

2. I grew up in a town where most building heights were survivable to fall from. All these archetypes are known to me, but I doubt I would have written this anthem. What is it about growing up in NY that made you write Anthem?

Probably like 1990s teenagers all over the country, I remember constantly trading mixtapes with my friends. They were about the music, obviously, but they were also about identity and affiliation. I wanted to write a story about New York City teenagers that’s like a mixtape. I tried to sample fragments of my memories of the kids I grew up with, went to school with, saw at the park, on the train, and so on.

3. Finish this sentence: I woke up naked in a field and…

Are you threatening me?

4. What was writing to you when you were a child?

I briefly had a pen-pal. To this day, I picture her living inside of the board game Candy Land.

5. Do you have any tattoos?

Yes. I have a couple shitty tattoos that I got in high school, one of which I drew myself. They’ve got that old school fading thing going on, which makes me feel either edgy or old depending on my mood. My third tattoo was done more recently and it’s a good one.

6. The difference between having tattoos and having works posted on the internet is that while you may be stuck with both forever, tattoos can usually be hidden while this post can be viewed by anyone. How does that make you feel? Do you have any stalkers?
Aren’t we all just a little bit stalkerish these days? For example, I know that you, DeWitt, would like to have an orange farm one day.