Well-known ‘Sean of the South’ visits Andalusia

Published 1:18 am Friday, June 16, 2017

Prolific columnist and author Sean Dietrich talked about his life and read from his writings, many of which describe life in small towns, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church last night.

Dietrich’s “Sean of the South” columns have garnered him thousands of followers online, and he has published eight books to date.

Dietrich uses a unique style of storytelling in his books and columns, and the majority of his writings are about life in the South, especially small towns in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle

“I write the way I talk. I have to hear a sentence in my head the way I would say it,” Dietrich said of his unique style of writing. “Which is why I don’t use big words. Not because I don’t know many – though it’s true, I don’t know many – but because I would never use them in conversations.

“I like to tell people that I write at a fourth-grade level because that’s how I understand things,” he said.

Dietrich was born in Missouri and reared in the Florida Panhandle, but calls himself an “adopted son” of Alabama. His wife, Jamie, is a Brewton native and Dietrich said that her family adopted him when they started dating.

“My past is so broken, I’d been waiting for someone to adopt me for a long, long time,” he said. “Alabama is like our second home. I feel more at home in Brewton than I do on my own living room sofa.”

Many of his stories incorporate tales of small town Alabama, even including such towns as Andalusia, Greenville and Georgiana in the stories. These towns are not just vital to Dietrich’s stories but also to the country in general, he said.

“Small towns are everything to me. They are a dying art form,” Dietrich said. “I have little interest in big areas, and begin to develop shortness of breath whenever I see too many traffic lights in one ZIP code.

“I hope to visit every small town in Alabama before I die, meet every old man and old lady who has worked hard for a living. And I hope to eat at every dive in this wonderful state,” he said.

Along with his daily columns, which he posts to his blog each night, Dietrich has written eight books. Six of his books are compilations of his popular “Sean of the South” column, but he’s also written two novels: “The Other Side of the Bay” and “Lyla.”

Dietrich is currently putting the finishing touches on his third novel, “Stars of Alabama,” which is loosely based on the life of his grandmother.

“It has been taking me a lot longer than I thought it would,” Dietrich said of his newest book. “It’s finished, but the edits have taken almost a year and a half so far.”

Dietrich said that he loves making appearances and presentations in the very small towns he writes about, and thinks the world needs more of these small town lifestyles.

“I told myself, early on, that I would write about the style of living that’s dying in America,” he said. “About small places like Jay, Berrydale, Hartford or Brewton. If you ask me, the world has enough Olive Gardens, Best Buys and Targets. We need more Andalusias.”

If Dietrich loves the Andalusias of the world, Andalusia loved him back last night. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church was fill for his presentation.

To read Dietrich’s columns or purchase his books visit seandietrich.com.