An Indies Introduce Q&A With Maika and Maritza Moulite

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Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite are the authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, a Summer/Fall 2019 Indies Introduce young adult selection and a Fall 2019 Kids’ Indie Next List pick.

Dear Haiti coverThe sisters (two of a family of four daughters) are Miami natives whose parents are Haitian immigrants. Maika received her bachelor’s in marketing from Florida State University and her MBA from the University of Miami. Maritza received her bachelor’s in women’s studies from the University of Florida, and her master’s in journalism from the University of Southern California. In addition to working in marketing and journalism, respectively, both sisters blog for Daily Ellement.

Sami Thomason of Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, who served on the panel that selected the Moulites’ book for Indies Introduce, called it “an entrancing coming-of-age story filled with magic and sparkling prose. I immediately loved fiery Alaine, and her journey into her Haitian heritage and her mother’s past is so compelling.”

Here, Thomason asks the Moulites about writing together and bringing Haiti to life in their debut.

Sami Thomason: What was it like writing together as sisters? 

Maika Moulite
Maika Moulite

Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite: Writing together has been a fabulous experience. We’re so grateful to have each other on this author journey. Creating a story from just your imagination is a very solitary task. The fact that we’re able to bounce ideas off of each other and share our wins and our fears helps keep us sane. And whenever we encounter the inevitable sibling disagreement while working on a book, we simply adopt the idea of the person who’s most passionate. We feel that it makes the story that much stronger if we go with whoever has the most conviction about her point.

ST: Alaine has such a distinct and fresh voice. What made you decide to use an epistolary format for her voice?

Maritza Moulite
Maritza Moulite

MM & MM: Maritza read and was obsessed with Where’d You Go Bernadette. She eventually ... let’s say convinced ... Maika to go along with writing Dear Haiti, Love Alaine in an epistolary format. We set out to write a story that at its heart is about a girl getting to know her mother, her culture, and herself. We wanted Dear Haiti to be laugh-out-loud funny with plenty of heart, and to leave readers feeling like they truly got to know Alaine (and make it clear that Black girls can go on hilarious, crazy, life-changing adventures, too). The different forms of media were pieces to one puzzle. We knew from the beginning that the letters, diary entries, and texts and such would become characters themselves.

ST: Activism plays a huge role in this novel, with Alaine’s aunt Estelle running a charity in Haiti and her mother working as a notable journalist. What inspired this?

MM & MM: Haiti is often discussed in terms of deficit. What we don’t have, what we can’t do. And, yes, sometimes those points are true. But we wanted to have a character showing that Haitians also take care of our own. We are working toward a better present and future for our children. If we could show this while also making snarky commentary at how paternalistic some people with big hearts can be, then it’s a win-win! As for journalism, our family has a few journalists and Haiti has major reverence for its reporters and pundits as the voices of the people.

ST: What was the inspiration for the family curse Alaine discovers?

MM & MM: Maybe it’s just our grandma, but Haitian people spend a lot of time talking about madichon, or curses. Sometimes you get cursed because you were terrible to someone else. Sometimes it’s beyond you and just in your blood. Superstition is a major part of Haitian culture and we wanted to explore what that would mean to a Haitian American girl growing up in the States who suddenly finds herself in a new world that she’s only heard about.

ST: You’re both fantastic performers, as seen by the audience of your live reading at Children’s Institute. How do you plan on incorporating this into your book tour?

MM & MM: Thank you so much! We have a few school visits lined up and we are going to do whatever we need to in order to keep those students entertained. Our book includes homemade Haitian proverbs so we will give our audiences an opportunity to make their own proverbs, too. We’ll also be reading at our stops and in conversation with some really dynamic authors.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite (Inkyard Press, 9781335777096, Hardcover YA, $18.99) On Sale Date: 9/3/2019.

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ABA member stores are invited to use this interview or any others in our series of Q&As with Indies Introduce debut authors in newsletters and social media and in online and in-store promotions. Please let us know if you do.