Nana Malone: From Ghana To the World, Contemporary Romance For Everyone!

InD: I’ve read that you grew up in Ghana.
I was born here in the States. My dad was getting his PhD at the time. Soon after, though, they headed back to Ghana. We came back to the States when I was six, and from that point on, we went back and forth during the summer.
InD: Was it your mom and/or dad who had family in Ghana?
: Both of my parents are from Ghana. My dad did his PhD here and my mom went to nursing school in the U.K.. They eventually landed here in 1982, after the coup d'état.
InD: That is so interesting. What was it like in Ghana?
Ghana, right now, is super Westernized. If you have ever been to South Africa, it looks a lot like that. When I go to Ghana with my daughter, you can just feel the heat and the dust the minute you get off the plane, and there is the smell that I call the earth of Ghana. It’s not a bad smell, but it is an earthy smell. That is home. When my daughter was five, she said, “Mommy, we’re home!” I love that feeling. I feel like there is this weight that leaves me and I can sink in to being at home.
But, you leave the plane by walking out on the tarmac to get to the arrival gate, and it is so hot, especially after being in the frigid air conditioning of the plane. The airport is so Western now. My friends who go there say it’s like being in Jamaica when you land because Ghana is super green, super lush, and really humid, especially in the rainy season.
InD: Can you remember what it was like growing up there as a child?
I really do. I wish I could describe it because it is just home for me. My grandparents’ house was full of books. They still have a dark, paneled shelf that is stacked with books. My grandfather used to teach Latin and he loved anything to do with books. You could find books in every nook and cranny, even under the stairs where there is a nook. As a kid, I would play there. I would bring my dolls, my books, and all of my favorite stuff in there. Now, it’s just a storage spot, but that was my spot when I was young.
InD: Was it a weird transition going back and forth between the States and Ghana each summer, or is it pretty much the same?
It is a lot of the same, especially now that more roads are paved. When I would go back as a child, there were infrastructure things I would notice. We also used to joke about the three TV stations and one of them was always static. There were three radio stations and one of them would always play Gospel, so you kind of had to bring your own entertainment. But I knew I could always find books at my grandfather's house, so those things weren’t a problem.
InD: You said your grandfather taught Latin, so what kind of books were you reading?
He loved to read. He was obsessed with words. He would call me over and say, “Do you see how this word is made and do you know where it came from?” Then there would be this whole lesson on the Latin roots, where it came from and what it means.
InD: Did you like that as a child?
Yes. He is my grandfather, and he was talking to me, so it was great. I was a pretty easy kid. When I was 13 and we had not been there for a couple of years, I remember I really started reading Romance. I would bring books with me, but have them read by the time I got there, so I would go to their house and pilfer books. I was reading Mario Puzo's "Fools Die". As an adult, I think, “I had no business reading that!”
But there was no supervision on what I was reading. I would just pull things off the shelf and read it. I read a lot of Sidney Sheldon, but mom never wanted me to read any books that had kissing in them. I would get in so much trouble if I was staring at books that had Fabio on the cover! (both laughing)
InD: Bare chested men.
I am scarred for life! I cannot walk into a CVS without thinking about it. [chuckling] I was about 10 years old when my cousin gave me something like a U.K. Harlequin. It was about this Greek shipping tycoon. I remember he was really mean and thought, “Why would you go out with this guy?” I do remember thinking, “Wow, there is sex in this!”
InD: Mom would not like this! [both laughing]
I was hooked on Romance from that point on.

Read the entire fun and informative interview in the July/August 2021 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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