by Brian A. Hopkins
On Tuesday, the First of September, I received email from Dietmar Trommeshauser's cousin, Karl Trommeshauser, letting me know that Dietmar had died of a coronary during back surgery the day before.
My first contact with Dietmar was when I rejected a story he'd written. I was reading as Assistant Editor for Paula Guran's Wetbones, and one of the stories under consideration was Dietmar's "Hog Wild." Because I'd never heard of Dietmar and the story really impressed me, I accessed his web page to see what I could learn about him. I was curious to see if he'd been published before and, if so, where. Perhaps I should have recommended that Guran accept that story, because, even though we rejected it, "Hog Wild" stuck in my mind. In fact, of all the stories I read while working for Guran, including those I recommended she accept, I remember only one other as well as I remember "Hog Wild." The story was visceral and unnerving and hilarious -- a difficult combination for even the most experienced pro to pull off. What's more, the story stuck with me. Even several years later, I remember it vividly. What better measure for any author's work?
Anyway, a year and a half or so passed. Then, Dietmar and I stumbled back into contact. I don't exactly remember how. One of us emailed the other with a short "Hey, I saw your story in such and such magazine" or "Hey, I like what you've done with your web page." Maybe we found ourselves sharing space in the same webzine somewhere. It was something like that. It might have even been me emailing him out of the blue -- I have tendency to do that to other writers. Regardless, we started conversing back and forth via email. I confessed that I still fondly remembered "Hog Wild." I don't think he realized that it was me who had rejected the story until I reminded him. He pulled the rejection letter out of his files and read back what I had written to him. What followed was a series of emails in which we exchanged views on writing and the horror field in general, finding that we shared many of the same opinions. We discovered we had a mutual admiration for each other's work and, more importantly, what we were both trying to do with our fiction. We started a collaborative story. Though each of us only completed one scene of that story before we both became sidetracked with other projects, we did a lot of plotting back and forth. What I had originally conceived of as a rather short and one-dimensional haunted shipwreck story became very involved, with layers of subtlety and context that I would have never envisioned on my own. I deeply regret that we didn't focus our energies on that story, that we didn't finish it. I'd dearly love to be able to say I had written something with Dietmar Trommeshauser, to have that finished story to remember him by.
What I do have to remember Dietmar by is the brief friendship we shared and his dedication to the craft of writing. He loved what he was doing, loved sharing his stories with others, and that made whatever it took to accomplish the writing more than worthwhile. Never, in all our personal correspondence, in which I might have bitched and moaned about one thing or another related to my own writing career, did I hear any complaints from Dietmar. The closest he ever came to even admitting that his handicap was a problem was once when he apologized for not having something written sooner because he had to wait for his nurse to come and sit him up before he could get to work. Here's a man for whom writing must have been, at best, a very tedious chore, but he never let that show, nor did he let it slow him down. If one smidgeon of Dietmar Trommeshauser rubbed off on me for the short period in which I called him friend, I'm a much better person for it.
When Dietmar failed to answer my last few emails, I thought he was busy. I didn't know he was having health problems. I wish now that I had picked up the phone and called him, but with him living in the Great White North and me here in Oklahoma, with long distance charges being what they are, well, I didn't call. I wish I had. I never got to tell Dietmar how much I respected and admired him, how much he had rekindled my own desire to be a writer. Wherever he is now, I hope he knows all that.Brian A. Hopkins
Oklahoma City, OK
15 September 1998
(Author's Note: This eulogy first appeared in the Chiaroscuro newsletter in late September of 1998.)
Copyright © 2011 Brian A. Hopkins, 2011-07-30 20:02, www.bahwolf.com