Welcome to my stop on the Concealed Blog Tour!
I'm very excited to bring to you today an interview with author Sang Kromah
Q. What three words best describe Concealed?
Original, Epic, Exotic
Q. Where did the idea behind Concealed come from?
Growing up, I was told countless tales of powerful mystical beings from my parents’ native land of Liberia. These beings went by many names, disguising their true identity from human eyes. But generally, they were referred to as Djinn. While reminiscing on the many stories of dwarfish baby snatchers, unearthly beauties with fish tails, beings that walked by night, and some who drank blood, and shapeshifters, I decided to delve deeper into the word “Djinn”. Google led me to similar stories from various countries of creatures that went by other names—not only African nations—but most of them were about magic lamps and that wasn’t exactly what I sought. Eventually, my dad pointed me to the Latin root word, “Janna” which means to conceal, which perfectly describes these beings that concealed their true identity from human eyes. But what if there was one human—different from all others—with the ability to see what wasn’t meant to be seen by human eyes? Someone not quite like them, but not exactly one of us either?
As a child, there was one story that stood out to me about a strong-willed, feisty, mischievous girl named Femeni who escaped—what should have been certain death at the hands of a notorious Djinn. After hearing the story, I always wondered what happened to Femeni, and did she have any other encounters with the Djinn? As I grew older, the questions became more complex; what was so special about Femeni that helped her escape the Djinn? What if Femeni had a child, would there be something special about that child as well? These questions gave birth to Concealed.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the mythological aspects in Concealed? Such as the djinn.
I think I pretty much answered this question with my last answer, but in Concealed, I made up entirely new legends about the Djinn; even the way I define them are new. They’re a far cry from the genies bound by lamps. In Concealed, any being who can conceal itself is a Djinn. This is what makes Bijou special, because she can see what separates the humans from the non-humans. There are some myths I took and made my own. For example, I took the mythical figure of Lilith, but turned into something entirely new.
Q. Were any of your characters inspired by real people? Is Bijou-who has a fabulous name by the way- anything like you?
I used the names of many people I know. The characters are nothing like the people they are named after. I’m a people watcher, so since I was a little kid, I’d keep these journals of the people I’d come into contact with. I’d watch their mannerisms, and put to words what I see them doing. It helps gives your characters quirks, instead of having characters who have generic personalities. Of course I exaggerate many characteristic, but generally, each character I create is an accumulation of about six or seven people I’ve met, plus my hyperactive-active imagination. I study people keenly, tweaking their personalities and traits with humorous quirks and fantastical abilities.
As for Bijou, it would be impossible for her not to be anything like me, but I try extremely hard to separate myself from my characters. I can definitely relate to her the most, and it’s more than just the fact that Concealed takes place in my old high school and hometown. Bijou is like the part of me that I thought no one knew existed, because many of the things I want to say, but can’t get away with, I use her to say it instead. When my mom talks about the story, she often makes the mistake of calling Bijou Sang.
The most challenging part of writing this book was becoming a sixteen year old girl once again. The story is written in first person narrative, so I really wanted the writing to be authentic. So there were many days where I would isolate myself from the rest of the world, so I could stay in Bijou’s mindset. And then, all of the research and legends I created about the Djinn had me scared senseless at times. I had created a world that had become so real to me that I started to identify signs of their presence in everyday people. It sounds crazy, but I used to scare the hell out of myself, so I pretty much have an idea of the fear that Bijou felt coming into contact with the Djinn.
Q. Can you share anything about upcoming books in the Concealed Series? Do you have the entire series planned out?
I have the entire series planned out. I even know the last sentence I will write on the last page of the last book of the series. This story has been with me my entire life, so I guess you can say Bijou is—in a way—my alter-ego. One thing is for certain, with this series, you will never see what’s coming. You will sympathize with the villains and at times hate the good guys as well. People aren’t what/who they seem and the legends I create are identical to none.
Q. What has been the most rewarding aspect of being an author? The most challenging?
My favorite part about the writing process is world building. I love the fact that there are no boundaries. I create the rules.
The most challenging part would have to be staying sane. It’s so easy to get sucked into the world I’ve created.
Q. Are you a big mythology fan? Do you have a favorite mythological being?
I’m a huge fan of mythology, which is why I chose to explore myths from all over the world for Concealed. I love the fact that different cultures have almost identical stories of various beings, the only difference being the names. My favorite mythical creature would be a mermaid or as they are mainly called in Concealed and in West Africa, Mami Wata. So much mystery and intrigue surround these beings and their power is unmatched.
If I had to choose one mythological being, it would be Lilith. I guess that’s why she plays a huge part of my series. There’s so much mystery surrounding the origins of Lilith. She has even been linked to the creation story and historical figures throughout the world.
Q. If you could be magically transported into ANY made up/created world from ANY book/movie/tv show, which would it be and what would you do there?
For me, it’s J.M. Barrie’s Never-Neverland. Imagine having a thousand adventures and never growing old. Every day would be a new adventure. I would never plan the next day out, I would fear nothing, and from day to day , it would be debatable whether I’m good or evil.
Q. If you could magically transport ANY character from ANY book/movie/tv show into our world, who would it be and why?
Q. Who is your favorite literary villain…who do you just love to hate or hate to love?
I would have to say my favorite literary villain is Puck from ‘A Mid-summer Night’s Dream’, which is why I had to find a way to include Puck in Concealed. The thing about Puck is that the bad things he did wasn’t out of actual malice. He basically did them for a laugh. I think these types of villains are the best, because in order for a story to be good, the characters have to be believable and what person is all bad or all good?
Q. What’s the one book you wish you wrote?
I have two. I’d have to say Harry Potter and Pride & Prejudice.
Q. What’s the one book you think everybody should read at least once in their life?
It’s a sin, not to read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse at least once in their life. Words can’t truly describe what this book means to me, but I will say this, it inspires you to explore yourself and to let go of preconceived notions. It’s just beautiful and uplifting. I’ve read it over five times. My dad gave it to my when I graduated from high school.
Sang Kromah grew up in the sleepy suburb of Sykseville, Maryland, the setting of her debut novel Concealed. As a child, Kromah would sit in the living room with her brother and listen to her parents recount the fairytales of their native land of Liberia, absorbing in the words and pictures. Born a storyteller, Kromah would run away with the words, creating her own stories with the mythical, alluring creatures in her head.