Interview with Maika and Maritza Moulite


About the Author: “Maika Moulite is a Miami native and the daughter of Haitian immigrants. She earned a bachelor’s in marketing from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Miami. When she’s not using her digital prowess to help nonprofits and major organizations tell their stories online, she’s sharpening her skills as a PhD student at Howard University’s Communication, Culture and Media Studies program. Her research focuses on representation in media and its impact on marginalized groups. She’s the eldest of four sisters and loves young adult novels, fierce female leads, and laughing.” (Bio taken from author’s website) 

Find Maika on the following platforms:

About the Author: “Maritza Moulite graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in women’s studies and the University of Southern California with a master’s in journalism. She’s worked in various capacities for NBC News, CNN, and USA TODAY. Maritza is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania exploring ways to improve literacy in under-resourced communities after being inspired to study education from her time as a literacy tutor and pre-k teacher assistant. Her favorite song is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.” (Bio taken from author’s website) 

Find Maritza on the following platforms:

A huge thank you to Maika Moulite and Martiza Moulite, as well as Laura Gianino for making this interview possible. Read on for a discussion on family, writing during a pandemic, and the Moulite sisters’ two novels, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine and One of the Good Ones! Don’t miss our blogs on Dear Haiti, Love Alaine and One of the Good Ones

Jackie Balbastro: This has been such a dream of mine for nearly a year because I was highly anticipating One of the Good Ones and had been dying to read Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. I absolutely loved both of your novels so very much! I’ve watched some of your past interviews, including the Seth Myers one, which was so inspiring to see you on TV. Congratulations on all the success, honestly. One thing I want to note is that I really love how much you share your love for one another and your two other sisters. As someone who comes from a family with five sisters of my own, reading One of the Good Ones’ representation of sisterhood felt so real and resonated with the ways that I can, at the same time, resent them but still love them deeply. Did you pull from your relationships among the four of you for Kezi, Happi, and Genny’s relationships or Estelle and Celeste’s relationship?

Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite: The great thing about writing is that you can use real life as inspiration and then completely do your own thing! We definitely were able to pull from our interactions as sisters, as well as our relationships with our two younger sisters. For example, any “hurry up you’re taking forever in the bathroom” scenes are from real life but we’re also able to explore a lot of fictional things as we write too.

JB: Also, with your tight knit bonds and considering you have another sister who is a journalist, would you ever consider writing any novels, essays or even a joint memoir, together?

MM & MM: A memoir? Whoa! We would say it’s a bit early to think about that one just yet. We don’t know what the future holds, but for now, our two younger sisters are our biggest fans and it’s great to know that they’re always rooting for us.

JB: You’ve shared that you are quite the opposite when it comes to your interests and processes. In writing your two novels, have your styles adapted towards becoming more like the other because you are trying to write with consistency, and what has been the best part about having each other to work alongside?

MM & MM: Yes! We’ve been able to take some of the things that we like about each other’s writing and incorporate it into our own. Maika is a pantser and Maritza is a plotter but lately we’ve been doing more plantsing… or should we say plotsering?

JB: Have there been points of frustration or instances where communicating an idea was difficult, and how do you work through them? 

MM & MM: Whenever we come across something that we can’t quite agree on, we take a moment and step back. Then we come together again and each try to make our case. Whoever is most convincing wins out because we figure that more conviction will translate into a better story. In the rare instances where we can’t come to a consensus between the two of us, we’ll pull in our family and ask them. Perks of having a big family!

JB: Has the pandemic affected your writing as a unit at all or has it stayed relatively the same, considering you’ve always written separately? 

MM & MM: The pandemic hasn’t impacted our writing as a unit, but it has made it a bit harder to write in general. We’re just getting into the groove of things again. It’s helped that sometimes we’ll write things just for ourselves. That’s been a nice way for us to remember to love the act of writing. And it’s also been a great help to know that it’s okay to step away when we need to. There is a lot going on in the world right now (to say the least) so it’s important to be kind to ourselves.

JB: For your debut and sophomore novels, you write very hard-hitting contemporary pieces, but considering the epistolary nature of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine and the jumps in time in One of the Good Ones, do you think you’ll explore time in other genres like speculative fiction or do you have any desire to write a historical/historical fiction novel? 

MM & MM: Something that we’ve noticed is that we tend to incorporate a bit of history into our stories. Even when we aren’t thinking about it, the past just seeps in. We want to write in other genres and for readers of all ages though so don’t be surprised if you ever see us writing romance or fantasy or anything in between!

JB: After reading Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, I was yearning to know more about the characters and would die for a Jules/Celeste prequel. Do you think you’d revisit this cast of characters and if so, where do you see yourselves picking the story up from?

MM & MM: We wrote Dear Haiti, Love Alaine as a standalone but if we were to ever write in that world again we would love to write a story about Tatiana, Alaine’s best friend. Her upbringing was closer to our own so it would be cool to explore that.

JB: I am curious to know if an adaptation came to be of your books would you prefer the big screen or small screen treatment, and who would be an ideal cast for each novel? Do you think if your book universes collided, Happi and Alaine would get along with one another? 

MM & MM: This is something completely out of our control, but we would love both of our stories to be adapted for television or film. We would want whichever medium lends itself to best tell the story. Regarding Happi and Alaine, we don’t know that they’d be the best of friends necessarily, but Kezi and Alaine definitely have more in common!

JB: Last year I was so happy to discover the group you two are a part of, Las Musas, through being a volunteer for the Latinx KidLit Book Festival. Growing up, I was really isolated with my identity and certainly didn’t realize the expanse of the Latinx identity, so it was such an honor to see a whole group of people who could share in my experiences. I want to overall thank you for writing about characters who are Haitian and showcasing the intricacies in personal identity versus a sort of ‘monolithic’ or communal view of what identity is. What I love most about your books is the ancestral components that they have. I am someone who loves research, uncovering history, and the ties we all have to each other, so I’m very interested to know what the research process was like for you, what aspects you felt were crucial to both contextualize and characterize Haiti, and do you think you’ll always confront past vs. present in each of the stories you create?

MM & MM: We are library girls at heart so we rely on the library for a lot of our research. Research might also involve us reading other stories within the genre we’re writing in or stories that strike a similar tone. We read lots of news articles depending on the topic we’re writing about. We’ll also ask our parents and grandma for insight. The research process is really just us getting to explore and learn new things and figure out a way to translate that into something that’s exciting and entertaining. The past informs so many of our decisions today so it’s likely that we’ll try to sprinkle in a little bit of history here and there within our stories to help provide more context.

JB: Speaking of history, it is at the heart of Alaine and Happi’s respective stories as well as all the characters in your novels. The character Roseline was so interesting to me, and she was so complex. The situations throughout the two novels involving death, sexual abuse, sacrifice (in more ways than one), and racism all lead to discussions of accountability, and you make sure not to villainize any one person but instead deconstruct ideologies, upbringings and the systems that be, which I appreciate so much. When outlining your novels, how did you go about deciding the specific connections between characters and how arcs will play out? Were there any characters that weren’t a part of your first drafts that eventually made their way into your two respective novels? 

MM & MM: Our outlines are pretty tight before we start drafting. Since there are two of us writing, it’s important for us both to know where the story is headed, who the characters are, etc. We create Pinterest boards and background stories for our characters that we pull into the narrative as we write.   

JB: You’ve shared you weren’t allowed to watch television growing up, even checking out up to 30 books at a time. As a dedicated binger myself, I’m curious to know what guilty pleasures across film, television, music and even social media tend to lead you away from writing and the ever-present deadline? With social media in mind, I appreciate your involvement in ‘booktok.’ Would you say that it or social media in general connects you to readers better, and have there been any downfalls as your readership expands? 

MM & MM: We’re both students right now so we haven’t had a lot of time to binge but when we’re able to relax for a moment, Maritza enjoys Kim’s Convenience and Maika is obsessed with audiobooks. Social media is great for connecting with readers. We try to balance making ourselves accessible and also having boundaries. We’re still navigating it all but it’s been an enjoyable learning process.

JB: Something that’s really inspiring about you two is how dedicated you are to social justice, activism, and the causes you believe in, and it really shows in how you speak and write. When it comes to contentious topics in One of the Good Ones such as religion, sexuality, and privilege, do you ever consult or have intergenerational discussions come up among yourselves and your family because of what you were writing at the time? The first-generation American experience is fraught with its own complexities, one I know well, and so I am curious to know if it has ever been hard celebrating your successes and sharing your work with your parents, if you do so at all?

MM & MM: If our sisters are our biggest fans, our mom, dad, and grandma are our unofficial agents! We’re very blessed to have our entire family support us like this because we know that it’s not always the case. We’re able to have great conversations with our family about all kinds of things so our stories are just one additional thing we can talk about. 

JB: As a huge fan of your work, I have to ask: what was the initial conversation like that brought you two together to begin this fabulous co-authorship? What goals do you share for your writing and what goals do you have individually that you hope to accomplish either in literature or personally? Do you have any novels in the works and can you share any details at this time? 

MM & MM: Right now we’re putting the finishing touches on our short story for the upcoming Latinx young adult horror anthology Our Shadows Have Claws. We also hope to share about our next book soon so stay tuned for that! It’s been awesome writing as sisters because we know that we can tell each other the truth when something isn’t working as it should and also give each other major props when we do a great job. The most important thing to us is our relationship as siblings. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

PRR Writer, Jackie Balbastro