Storyglossia Issue 38, February 2010.

An Interview with Tammy Remington


Tammy Remington's "What You'd Expect" appears in Storyglossia 38. Here, Tammy discusses where the story came from, juggling two points of view, good endings, and what she's currently at work on.


Anne Valente: Where did the premise for this story come from?


Tammy Remington: This story is one of six I wrote last summer to perform at the open mic down at Bluestockings Bookstore on the Lower East Side. While the story draws on certain autobiographical elements, I'm not interested in being limited by memoir and preferred starting with actual events in my life and then jumping off the cliff with them.


AV: You accomplish a lot here in relatively small space, with two interwoven points of view—two narrators, really. Were these difficult to juggle, or could the story simply not be told any other way?


TR: At the open mic, I get eight minutes, so a lot has to be folded into six pages. Using two narrators and two time frames allowed me to compress a great deal of action into that six pages. The first draft was pretty incomprehensible and it took some focus and a number of rewrites to make it clear who was saying what and when.


AV: The culmination to the ending is brutal, and those last lines hit pretty hard. How did you know this was the right ending for the story?


TR: The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. That doesn't happen nearly often enough!


AV: The title seems to play with both the first lines of the story, and the last lines in terms of inevitability and expectations. In what ways are the events that unfold inevitable, and in other ways, a matter of characters becoming only what's expected of them?


TR: Nothing is inevitable, but believing that something, especially something this awful, is inevitable, is one way for Teeter and Weston's daughter to attempt to make her peace with the unspeakable.


AV: What are you currently working on?


TR: I'm writing a second novel (the first one was my training-wheel novel and is quietly gathering dust) and it explores more deeply this notion of mothers who don't want or like their children. I've also begun taking acting lessons just because the whole thing seems so damned scary and ridiculous.


Tammy Remington left Cleveland, Ohio in 2000 to study writing at Columbia University. She's had stories appear in The Gertrude Press and Freight Train Magazine. Twice in 2006 she was invited to be a featured reader at Bluestockings Bookstore and is a regular at the open mic night there.