Story By Hannah Goldfinger
Photos Contributed By Sean Dietrich
Sean Dietrich is many things — writer, author, comedian, musician and award winner.
He actually goes by another name, too — Sean of the South.
Dietrich has actually written so many books at this point that he said he’s lost track — 15 or 16, he said.
His most recent book, Kinfolk, released on Nov. 14.
It’s described as: “Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich, AKA Sean of the South, takes readers on a heartwarming journey back to 1970s Southern Alabama. Here, readers will meet sixty-two-year-old Jeremiah Lewis Taylor, affectionately known as “Nub,” a man who has never been given much credit in life. However, when he forms an unexpected bond with fifteen-year-old Minnie, a Waffle House waitress facing her fair share of struggles, Nub discovers a newfound sense of purpose and goodness within himself. This lyrical tale weaves together themes of found family, second chances, country music and the transformative power of love and forgiveness.”
Dietrich came up for the idea of this book while sitting on his porch — as any good country man would do.
“I was sitting on the porch one day and I needed to start a book,” he said. “It was Birmingham and so it was kind of a chilly day and I thought, ‘what if we took this underprivileged kid? And we, we sort of put them through a school of hard knocks and then help them find their way at the end … Another of the ideas was, let’s take this kid and make them go to the Grand Ole Opry. So that was the idea. So, that was the nugget of the book and that’s where I started writing.”
All of this is interesting on its own — but even more so is that a year later, as Dietrich is writing, he gets a call from the Grand Ole Opry — one of the settings in his book.
“They invited me to perform … which was, you know it was like synchronicity, like I’ve never experienced in my life ever,” he said. “I’ve never experienced that kind of a weird happenings. So, here comes this book out and, you know, in a few days I’m going to make my third appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.”
And that’s just what Dietrich did in November — took the stage at the Grand Ole Opry again.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “It’s hard to believe … sorta me putting myself in [my characters position] because I grew up pretty tough too.”
That porch swing where Dietrich came up with the idea for Kinfolk is also where he does a lot of his musical work, too.
“I would say when I’m home I spend, you know, 8 to 10 hours out there on that porch doing my work and doing my writing and practicing whatever music I need to practice,” he said. “It’s kind of connected to my office so I can walk right back and forth in my office and out to the porch. But I spend very little time in my office. And. then my whole day on that little porch.”
Dietrich described his music as a “little one man train wreck.”
But the people at the Grand Ole Opry don’t agree.
“I’m numb,” he said. “It just doesn’t even make sense that they, I mean, you gotta worry about their standards. I don’t even understand how it’s happened or why and I certainly don’t belong there and I know, I know, I don’t belong there. And I’ve played with enough good musicians over the years, working as a musician myself, to know real talent when I see it. And I see it in other people all the time and you can point to those people and say, now that’s the guy who deserves [it].”
Despite the self-depreciation, Dietrich explained he’s cherished the experiences and made cool memories.
He’s already working on his next book, too.
“I have been working on that one for several, actually, several weeks now,” he said. “And that’ll change about 100 million times before it [publishes.]”
Dietrich had a good support system in place — namely his wife, Jamie.
“Well, she pretty much does everything I do except write the book,” he said. “I mean, she does everything that we need done except actually writing a book and actually performing. She does all of the planning, all of the booking, she does all of the travel plans, she does all of the dealing with the venue, all of the dealing with the agents. She talks to my publishers. I don’t even talk to my publishers. She talks to my publishers because I do bad under pressure. I’m just really, really, really bad under pressure.”
His wife doesn’t even share the deadlines with him because he’s likely to get it done faster than if he knew the deadline.
“She supports me that way with that and she just takes care of everything,” Dietrich said. “She feeds me. I mean, she keeps our house in order. She does everything … So I always say that Jamie is Sean of the South and I am just, you know, I can be eye candy.”
Dietrich credits everything to his wife — saying none of it would be possible without her.
The most rewarding part of all he does, Dietrich said, is the people he gets to meet.
“I meet people at shows and stuff,” he said. “It makes you wanna keep doing what you do, even if it does get, you know, to a point where you’re overwhelmed, I get to meet a lot of very special people.
“And that right there, touches me on a deep level and I identify with every one of them and sometimes when you live the life of a reclusive writer and — this is where I’m lucky as opposed to maybe some other writers — I’m very grateful for this but being kind of out in the public doing performances, I get to meet those kinds of people. Whereas maybe some writers get pigeonholed behind their laptop, and they don’t ever really get to get out and see the world and their friends because if someone is reading you, you know, they’re your friend.”
Dietrich has a lot of friends then, spanning across his 15 — or 16, he said — books. Find Dietrich here at seanofthesouth.com.