Dear Haiti, Love Alaine - The Moulite sisters sit down with Tami Charles to talk about their much anticipated debut
It’s one thing to be a part of Las Musas, it reaches next level, however, when you finally get to meet a fellow Musa. In my case, I was lucky enough to meet the wonderfully talented sister duo, Maika & Maritza Moulite at BEA/Book Con this past June. Brilliant, funny, gorgeous, I just knew that their debut YA, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, was going to be something special!
About the book:
When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…
What would a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?
Actually, a lot.
Thanks to “the incident”, Alaine spends the next two months in Haiti doing a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. Alaine toils away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle and her mother, who is in hiding from her own, much more public incident.
All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks for Alaine…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with her mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. She even explores her family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.
You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing Alaine can’t handle.
And now, on to the questions!
What inspired you to write this book?
Growing up, our parents were typical strict Haitian parents. All we knew were the three L’s: lekol, legiz, lakay (school, church, home). But they took it one step further and didn’t let us watch television during the weekdays either. The only way that we knew to entertain ourselves was by going to the library every weekend and checking out a ton of books. We read so many amazing stories but none of them had characters who looked like us or had some of our shared experiences. So one day we thought: what if we wrote a book ourselves? And that’s how Dear Haiti, Love Alaine came to be!
Growing up, what books allowed you to see yourselves? What are your thoughts about Haitian rep in kidlit today versus what you may (or may not) have seen growing up?
We read all of the childhood staples written by so many wonderful authors. And while we saw ourselves in some of the characters that we read about, none of them were Haitian. Kidlit today has a few stories that highlight and feature Haitian protagonists--American Street by Ibi Zoboi, The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe, so many wonderful novels by Edwidge Danticat, and now Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. But there’s room for much more!
After discovering the full extent of Alaine’s prank, I couldn’t help but laugh. This scene was written a little too well, almost too personal. Anything y’all want to fess up to? (It’s never too late, ha!)
So funny! We were too scared to be pranksters when we were younger and never would’ve even dared! Our parents would’ve killed us. Alaine’s retaliation is pretty epic though.
Our readers would love to hear about your writing process. Do you take turns writing chapters? How does it work?
In order for us to be on the same page, we have to create a pretty extensive outline before we even start writing. Once that’s complete, we just dig in! We don’t split it up by characters or anything. One of us might start on the first half of a chapter and then the other picks up the second half. Then, we go back and comb over what the other person wrote so that everything sounds cohesive. We do such a good job at this that sometimes we can’t tell who wrote what!
Piggybacking off the previous questions, how do you deal with disagreements? Who always “wins?”
No one person wins all the time. The way that we resolve disputes is by going with whoever’s most passionate about her point. We feel that it will make the story that much stronger if you feel that intensely about what you’re defending. And we generally have the same sensibilities so disagreements are few and far between. We’re the two eldest of four sisters and the four of us basically speak our own language. You don’t want to play charades against us!
What’s next for the Moulite sisters? Will you always write as a duo or are there independent projects in the pipeline?
We definitely plan on writing more books together. We’re a pretty great team, even when we’re driving each other crazy! And we do have something in the pipeline. We don’t have a title just yet so we’re calling it our Green Book Book. Here’s a little snippet about it:
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.
We’re excited to see you two hit the road soon. Comment below with where you’ll be and when, so our readers can come support.
We’ll be stopping at 8 cities across the country! We can’t wait. Check out our tour schedule in the graphic below. And be sure to follow us on social media for the latest updates!
More about the blog author…
Former teacher. Wannabe chef. Tami Charles writes books for children and young adults. Her middle grade debut, Like Vanessa, earned Top 10 spots on the Indies Introduce and Spring Kids’ Next lists, three starred reviews and a Jr. Library Guild selection. Her next novel, Becoming Beatriz, is a companion to Like Vanessa and publishes 9/17/19. You can find her on Twitter @TamiWritesStuff, Instagram @tamiwrites, and online at www.tamiwrites.com.