[Note from Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora got the opportunity to interview co-authors Maritza Moulite and Maika Moulite and ask them a few questions! Take it away, Aurora.]
Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Maika and Maritza: When we started writing One of the Good Ones two years ago, there was no way we could’ve imagined the racial reckoning that would arise the summer of 2020. It was like all of the emotions and angst that we sought to navigate on the page had somehow spilled over into the real world. We wrote One of the Good Ones to draw attention to the ways that Black people are only deemed worthy of existence if they fulfill certain criteria. Are they educated? “Well-spoken”? Did they have a promising future? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then people care. But this shouldn’t be the case. Simply being a human being should be enough to be worthy of respect and dignity.
What character in this novel do you most relate to and why?
MAIKA: I don’t know that there’s any one character that I relate to specifically. However, there are aspects of multiple characters that I also see in myself: Happi’s focused determination to be the best at her craft, Kezi’s love of history and social justice, and Genny’s multitasking prowess as a PhD student.
MARITZA: Even though I’m pretty whimsical and can be capricious at times like Happi, I also really relate to Genny’s no-nonsense attitude more than I would care to admit! Kezi’s passion for seeking justice is something I share too.
Why do you feel novels with powerful and unique characters and themes are so popular and have such a voice right now?
Social media has been a wonderful tool to help bring issues to the forefront that have been ignored in the past, including within publishing. As we become more aware of the world we inhabit, it’s important for us to make sure we elevate the voices of people from groups that have been previously marginalized and disenfranchised. While publishing has done a bit better to help bring these stories forward, there’s still so much work to be done, to learn and unlearn. We hope publishing continues to elevate stories from marginalized groups that tackle tough topics but also seek to highlight novels that simply show our humanity. We are more than just our pain.
Please describe the content of your latest read and what can readers expect from it.
MAIKA: I recently read an advance reader copy of Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass and it was absolutely fantastic. It’s about a 17-year old named Reyna who lives in Tobago and is dealing with the grief of losing her mother as well as the end of her first relationship. Everyone’s life seems to be moving forward, and Reyna starts to consider what she wants from her own. If you want a beautifully written coming-of-age story that includes love, music, and hope, all set in the beautiful Caribbean, read this book!
MARITZA: I recently finished Debbie Rigaud’s Simone Breaks All the Rules and it was such an enjoyable read about a high school senior trying to figure herself out in the midst of a Haitian family who has a lot of expectations on who she should be. Let’s just say I could relate.
What’s next for you in the bookish world?
We’re working on book three right now! But, we can’t really share anything about it just yet. Stay tuned for updates though because we are very excited about this novel.
Who is your current favorite writer? Why?
We have way too many to name! But two of our favorite writers are Ibi Zoboi and Alyssa Cole. We admire both of their careers as authors and how they’ve been able to write wonderful stories across different genres and for different age groups. Anything they create is an auto-buy for us!
Any writing advice for aspiring writers?
Just get started! Yes, that’s our advice. And yes, it’s way easier to say than to do. But the only way to move from being an aspiring writer to a writer is…to write. If a blank document on your computer feels too daunting, then try writing by hand in a notebook. If an empty journal proves to be a bit intimidating, then try recording yourself as you speak about your idea. Then, transcribe those thoughts and ideas onto a page. Do whatever you have to do to get the words down, but just get started. You’ve got this!