Updated: Dec 21, 2019
This year's 2019 Miami Book Fair was one of the best ones yet, as there were more than 500+ authors covering multiple topics from all over the world in one beautiful, sunny, South Florida location. We got the opportunity to speak some amazingly talented authors, and Maika and Maritza Moulite were no different. As they walked into the room with a plate of food in hand, Mackenzie and I knew we were going to have a mini family reunion vibe while discussing their debut book Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.
Full of life, they sat down and smiled bright, ready to talk about the dream they finally made a reality. The two of them had always wanted to write a book together, and after going through publisher after publisher, holding steady to their vision of what they wanted to share with the world, they finally found a home in HarperCollins. Keeping their writings true to their dream, they were able to publish their very public love letter to their homeland, Haiti. This novel is written quite uniquely in an epistolary collage of social media statuses, emails, letters, postcards, diary entries and articles. The clever take is what allowed us to genuinely devour the story of Alaine almost immediately!
Of course, the first thing Mackenzie wanted to know was about the common mispronunciation of their Haitian last name, Moulite. "It's become a default," Maritza answered. After speaking with them on what made them write about this story, Maika broke down what their home was like growing up. "For us, growing up, we went to church like it was our job. It was a part of the three L's. Lekòl, legliz, lakay. Lekòl is school, legliz is church and lakay is home. So, that was very much our existence. We wanted to have a story of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, where Alaine is a Haitian-American, but we're giving the different sides of Haiti. So often, the narrative of Haiti is that it's the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and that's it. We're hoping that by having some of our own experiences, as well as experiences that are universal, we might be able to change the story about what Haiti is."
See them break it all down for us:
After speaking with them, we wanted to find out a little more about them, and of course, they didn't disappoint!
CTV: Besides wanting to tell a fresh story, how much of writing this was rooted in explaining Haitian culture to those that otherwise wouldn’t understand it and what ways did you make it palatable to those who are not familiar?
MMM: Our primary goal was to write a story that we would’ve wanted to read as children. We were Haitian American then (and now!) so we didn’t feel the need to explain every little cultural nuance. There’s a point where you must trust the reader and we firmly believe that you don’t have to be of the same race, ethnicity, gender, religious background, heck, even planet, to understand another person.
CTV: The book has been out for about two months now. At this point, what would be considered a success for you two? What are some of the goals you have for this book?
MMM: We counted this book a success the moment we finished it! Everything that has come after is a wonderful bonus.
CTV: How have your experiences in your professional life prepared you for this or has it been a completely new process that nothing could prepare you for?
MMM: Certain principles stay the same regardless of the industry you’re in. Work hard, be polite, be tenacious, be fearless yet professional, have discipline, etc. That will take you far wherever you are.
CTV: What are the Moulite sisters listening to right now? When you’re trying to get in the groove to work, what music helps you get there?
MMM: Sometimes epic movie scores help move the writing along but we spend a lot of time writing in silence. We do like to make playlists that include songs that our characters would enjoy and songs that match the tone of the book though. This is the DEAR HAITI, LOVE ALAINE playlist!
CTV: Is there anything else that you’d like for your supporters to look out for and where are you the easiest to find?
MMM: Yes, Book #2 is on its way. Our working title is the GREEN BOOK BOOK because we are terrible at titles. Here is a summary: In which a teen girl decides to honor the memory of her sister who died in police custody by taking a road trip inspired by her history buff sister's heirloom copy of the Negro Motorist Green Book, the civil rights-era guide to safe traveling for African Americans.
About Dear Haiti, Love Alaine:
Quick-witted high school journalist Alaine Beauparlant gets booted from her elite private school after an intricate prank goes cruelly awry (blame it on the family curse). She warily accepts an invitation from her aunt to spend her suspension at the family’s estate in Haiti–where her estranged mom is recuperating from a political fiasco. In her family’s homeland for the first time, Alaine is immediately put to work at her aunt’s start-up helping native children in need. Alaine meets locals, interacts with kids connected to donors, and is shown the ropes by Jason, a fellow intern whose charming ways are making work a bit more challenging. What she doesn’t expect to find are letters, articles, emails, and diary entries that she compiles into a final project that will not only save her academic standing in school, but also help her finally know the mother she’s never really understood.
Purchase the book on their website, HERE.
About the Authors:
Maika Moulite: Maika Moulite is a Miami native and 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 writing stories of her own. She also blogs at Daily Ellement, a lifestyle website featuring everything from diverse inspirational women to career guidance. She’s the oldest of four sisters and loves Young Adult fantasy, fierce female leads, and laughing.
Maritza Moulite: 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. An admirer of Michelle Obama, Maritza is a perpetual student and blogs at Daily Ellement as well. Her favorite song is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.