[Note From Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora Dominguez got the opportunity to interview authors Maika & Maritza Moulite and ask them five(ish) questions. Their novel ‘Dear Haiti, Love Alaine‘ is out now!]
Aurora: What was your inspiration behind Dear Haiti, Love Alaine?
Maika & Maritza Moulite: We came up with Alaine Beauparlant before we even had a story. As we explored this character we somehow shared in two brains, we developed a world and adventures that she would become a part of. The even bigger inspiration for Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was creating a story for the young readers inside us who used to devour every book that came their way growing up. We secretly yearned for more books with girls who looked like us and could even speak a little Creole too. And now we wrote one!
Who do you most relate to in the novel and why?
We related to Alaine’s quirkiness, her ambition, and intelligence. But we actually had an upbringing much closer to her best friend Tatiana, with the strict Haitian parents, extended relatives all over, and spending every waking hour at church.
Why do you feel books with powerful and relatable characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
Alaine was fun to write so we can believe that she’d be fun to read! Plus, as teens (and let’s face it, as adults too), we start to get a real handle on who we are, what we like, what we stand for, how we differ from what we’ve been taught… that can lead to lots of conflicting thoughts and emotions. But through all these changes, that voice in your head telling you to keep searching for answers is loud and clear. Relatable characters are also having such a voice right now because we’re living in an age with social media and more voices are able to be amplified. We’re able to hear from people who have been silenced in the past. It’s our hope that this isn’t just a trend because we feel that literature should reflect the people who are consuming it.
Tell us more about Dear Haiti, Love Alaine and what can readers expect from the read.
When a prank at school to avenge her mother goes terribly wrong, high school senior Alaine Beauparlant is sent to Haiti to complete a “volunteer immersion project” instead of getting suspended. While she’s there, she gets to know the mother she’s only really known from afar and learn about her family and culture up close. There’s even a family curse that needs breaking! You can read all about it in the letters, diary entries, text messages, and more that make up Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.
What’s next for you in the book world?
The working title of our second novel with Inkyard Press is the GREEN BOOK BOOK, 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.
Who is your favorite writer right now and why?
Maritza: My favorite writer right now is Kendare Blake because when I’m not writing, her Three Dark Crowns series is all I can think about.
Maika: This is a hard question! But I have to say Elizabeth Acevedo is one of my favorite writers. Her book The Poet X really left a lasting impression on me. Teenage Maika would’ve seen herself reflected right back at her in an uncanny way! Elizabeth’s way with words is amazing, lyrical but approachable. I’m clearly a huge fan!