I’m so very pleased to have Mayor Seraphina Danby from Wharton County visit today. Also fondly known as Nana D, this dynamic woman is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she an important elected official and adored grandmother, she’s an ace dessert-maker and has won for biggest pumpkin at several fall festivals. Once a notable clarinet player, she presently provides lessons for the woodwind instrument. But perhaps her most laudable [and undisclosed] act: she sews blankets and hats for local shelters.
Two weeks ago, we had her grandson, amateur sleuth Kellan Ayrwick, drop by. Equally fascinating on both personal and professional levels, this lively lady has a lot of goals—and we have no doubt she’ll accomplish all.
Without further delay, let’s learn what makes this grand-lady tick!
Tell us how and why you came to be mayor. Did you always have political ambitions?
Years ago, Wharton County was the strongest one in the whole state of Pennsylvania. We were model citizens who took care of one another and looked out for the land. As soon as the country started growing, and entertainment became more important than hard work, I saw my beloved homeland heading in the wrong direction. In the last twenty-five years, society has become too dependent on technology, industry, money, and greed. The wrong politicians were elected to run Wharton County and Braxton in particular. When that Stanton creep took over, I knew things were gonna get nasty. I let it go for a number of years, but then Kellan returned home. I realized there were still good people in the world who wanted to fix the problems, not just get richer. Kellan showed me that we could change, and when it came time to re-elect a new mayor, I threw my hat in the ring.
Kudos to you! And what are your plans as mayor?
If you’d attended my inauguration, young lady, you wouldn’t ask me that question. My speech is public record, but if I must repeat myself here, I suppose I shall. To start with, all the red tape is being dismantled. It took months for my friend to sell her house last year because the county kept charging her for every little change that had been made on the home in the last few years. I’m not saying citizens shouldn’t pay their fair share, but the process has got to be more effective. People should spend time with their families and friends, not filling out forms and attending meetings to listen to complaints about the temperature of the library.
That said, I’m planning on reducing individual taxes, increasing tourism to offset such a loss, bring back family values, ensure our leaders are out in the community and not behind closed doors. And free ice cream in Wellington Park on Sundays. Since you’re not from these parts, I’ll share with you what that means. Long ago, before the calorie counters and sugar police got involved, we used to have ice cream parties with all the kids from the county. We held monthly polls to pick the flavors. Local businesses provided the money to pay for the event. Farmers who lived in Wharton County supplied the ice cream, from cows raised on local pastures. Parents brought their kids to play in the park together, not on those tablets and phones. We learned to support one another, and we need to do that again. If you can’t have dairy, we’ll provide almond milk. If you are diabetic, we’ll provide something else. We want everyone there, and rather than stop it, we look to fix it.
That’s quite commendable. I wish you wholehearted luck with that. Please share what you like—and don’t like—about Wharton County.
I don’t like that the rich just keeping getting richer and the poor just keep getting poorer. Folks like Marcus Stanton and Hiram Grey sit back and stuff their wallets while honest families like the Roarkes can hardly make ends meet. I ousted Stanton. Grey is on my list next.
I love the sense of community that still exists deep within our souls. People talk to another. They drop by their local parish with a pie for the priest. They visit the hospital to share blankets and toys. We’re a small town, but we’ve got a big heart.
It does sound idyllic. Tell us, Mayor, what makes you you?
I do what I say I’m gonna do. I say what needs to be said. You might think I’m a little too direct. You might think I ask for too much. You might think I can be a tad judgmental. But I’d give you the shirt off my back if you truly needed it. I don’t feel the need to sugarcoat anything. Whether it’s my granddaughter Emma or Father Elijah, I’ll treat you the same. People need not be afraid of the truth. They need to develop a thicker skin and stop all this nonsense of simply complaining about how things used to be, yet never lift a finger to fix it. Action speaks louder than words sometimes. It’s my job as mayor to set a good example and lead Wharton County back to its glory days, but with a modern touch.
If you had a chance to do something differently, what would that be?
I’d probably spend more time with my husband before he had that heart attack. We were doing too much on the farm, and I should’ve recognized the impact it was having on him. I miss that man every day of my life, but we’ll be together in the future again. I’m living way past a hundred, so he’s just gonna have to wait a bit longer. Consider it revenge for him making me wait so long for him to finish remodeling our bedroom years ago.
…Some might describe you as feisty or sarcastic. How do you view yourself?
I tell it like it is. Kellan is a good grandson. Don’t tell the others, but he’s my favorite. He’s got an ego at times, and it’s my job to knock him down a peg or two. Call me what you like, but it all comes down to passion. If I believe in something strongly, I’ll support it with every fiber of my being. When you say something with love, and you demonstrate you are committed to doing the right thing, you can accomplish anything you want. When that princess, Cecilia Castigliano, tried to intimidate me, I wouldn’t back down. She might be a foot taller than me and as gaunt as a devil in fancy Prada heels, but no one beats Nana D. I’m also seventy-five years old. I’ve seen war and famine. I’ve watched people die and go through the worst pain of their lives. When you’ve walked the walk, you can talk the talk, honey.
Of that, I have no doubt. Where does “Nana D” come from?
My daughter Violet and I have on thing in common, and only one thing. Neither of us likes to think about aging. When my first grandkid was born, I didn’t want to be called Grandma. We couldn’t come up with an appropriate name until Hampton, that’s my oldest, visited the farm and followed the goats around. Somehow, he started calling me nanny. Eventually, it became Nanny Danny because he couldn’t pronounce the letter B properly. It became Nana D, and for the sake of consistency, I insisted everyone call me by that name, even my grandchildren’s friends.
As you’ve mentioned, you’re particularly fond of your “favorite” grandson, Kellan Ayrwick—and that he’s an amateur sleuth, among other things. We had him here two weeks ago, but we’d love you to share your thoughts. Tell us about him, won’t you please?
Kellan is my pride and joy. He spent a lot of time at the farm when he was younger. All my grandchildren did, but Kellan loved to visit the most. His two older siblings are a bit hoity toity for my taste. Gabriel and Eleanor visited a lot too, but they hung around Violet more. For some reason, Kellan just fit in best with Michael and me. It broke my heart when he chose to attend graduate school in Los Angeles, and I knew in my gut that he’d be gone for a long time. I tried to accept it, but when he lost Francesca in that car accident, I went out to Los Angeles for a few weeks to help him figure out how to move forward. We bonded again on that trip, and ever since then, he’s been the one who needs me the most. Or maybe I need him the most. Wait, don’t print that … I don’t want him to think I got all sappy and sentimental.
Kellan is a true gentleman. He’s intelligent and funny. He knows how to cook, clean, and raise a child. He’s generous and friendly. He volunteers and helps those who aren’t as fortunate as he is. He keeps himself in good shape and always lends a hand to those who need help. He learned that all from my late husband. That’s 95% of the time. Somehow, he’s got a little bit of his father, Wesley, in him for that other 5%. Wesley is a pompous ass, pardon my French. While Kellan isn’t as crusty as his father, he can be a little too sarcastic and egotistical. It’s my job to stop him from crossing a line. I used to worry who would keep doing that when I wasn’t around, but the sheriff, April Montague, and Kellan’s boss, Myriam Castle, seem to know how to keep my grandson in line. A man needs a good woman to show him the boundaries. I’m confident the three of us will ensure he doesn’t step in the wrong direction in the future.
I’m sure you will. Speaking of women, what are your thoughts about Kellan’s marriage and his ex-wife’s exploits? A bit, hmm, shady perhaps?
You got some whisky? I’m gonna need a drink to get through that conversation, honey. Since you look like a nice lady and seem to be of the friendly sort, I’ll keep my language in check. Francesca Castigliano is a hussy. She claims to love Kellan, and I’ve seen her be a good mother to Emma, so I can’t quite accept she’s irredeemable. But there was always something funny about that family. I knew it from the beginning, and I even told Kellan not to marry her so quickly. The boy didn’t listen to me. If they’d involved me in the whole Las Vargas and Castigliano showdown, things would’ve happened differently. At this point, I’m glad the trollop is back in Los Angeles and hopefully on her way to prison.
Oh my. …Do you approve of his exciting sleuthing endeavors? And, if so, might you like to be more involved?
I wholeheartedly approve of them. In fact, in most cases, I insisted he get involved. I pushed him to solve the first case when those grades changed and the baseball scout showed up. I demanded he look into Gwennie’s untimely death. I even set him up to deal with the flower show murder. The problem is … he’s doing too much. Kellan should be investigating crimes as his full-time job, but he needs to earn a living, so I understand why he’s still teaching and directing films. I would love to get more involved, and I have done so in my official role as the mayor. It’s my job to clear the hurdles and red tape when the sheriff tries to put her foot down and stop Kellan from investigating. I suspect I will get more involved in the next one. Did you hear the premonition that psychic lady made?
Do we believe it? <wink> Lastly, Mayor—Nana D—what are your views on family? What do you hope for the Ayrwicks?
Violet needs to retire, so she and Wesley can travel the world together. Those two were meant to spend their future together. All my children have full and exciting lives. It’s time they just lived them and let me deal with the youngest generation. Above all, though, I want everyone to be happy. Eleanor seems to have met a nice, young man finally. She’ll probably screw that up soon. Hampton moved back home. I hear he’s already got himself into trouble with his father-in-law. Penelope and I never saw eye to eye. We had a disagreement years ago about her moving to New York, and I’m not sure she’s ever forgiven me. Gabriel, well, what can I say about Gabriel. I gave him the cottage, didn’t I? He might become my new buddy now that Kellan is so busy solving murders. I hope Gabrield and Sam stay together. It’s been a tough road for that boy, but I’m glad he finally told us the truth about his secret relationships. Long-distance ain’t easy. As for Kellan, well, I know he wants to give Emma a sibling, so I guess I hope he meets the right woman soon enough. Based on what I’ve started to see blossoming between him and the sheriff, it wouldn’t’ surprise me if … no … never mind. I shouldn’t say such foolish things out loud. Are we done yet? I need to get to a meeting to knock some sense into the town councilmen. Might need to slap someone’s bottom silly to get my point across, honey. Swift and fierce, that’s the only way to success.
Yes, we’re done. You, Mayor Danby are indeed a force to be reckoned with. Thanks so much for dropping by. I wish you all the best in your political endeavors; I have no doubt you’ll do well and will accomplish much. …And if you have any more banana flan, please feel free to drop it by!
And for those of you interested in learning more about Kellan, her grandson—the accomplished amateur sleuth—please visit: