Maritza and Maika Moulite – One of the Good Ones
Q&A with Maritza and Maika Moulite, the co-authors and sisters of One of the Good Ones
Will you please introduce yourself to the CBC community?
Hi y’all! We’re Maritza and Maika Moulite, sisters and co-authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine and One of the Good Ones! One of the Good Ones is about 18-year-old Kezi Smith, an activist, who dies under mysterious circumstances while at a social justice rally. To commemorate Kezi, her sisters Happi and Genny embark on a journey using The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To hear podcasts with the authors, or their hand-picked playlist for this novel, visit #Changemakers Kit
Who did you write this book for? Why is it important?
We wrote One of the Good Ones to examine racial injustice in America. Although this is a contemporary story, there’s no way to have a conversation around race without taking a look at history and we were able to do this via our characters Kezi, Happi, Genny, and their relatives in the past. We hope that readers will not only be entertained while reading, but educated too. We took some liberties with some of our historical references but hopefully, folks will want to do their own research and investigating. This story is for any and everyone, but especially for those who understand that Black people and other marginalized folks shouldn’t have to be saints for their lives to matter.
What do your family and friends think of your writing?
Our family and friends are really proud of us. We read through final edits of One of the Good Ones with our youngest sister Lydi’Ann and she ooh-ed and ahh-ed at all the right parts. And our other younger sister Jessica said she sobbed on the subway as she finished reading Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. Our mom, dad, and gramma love to brag about us. We’re blessed to have a wonderful support system.
Your YA novel, One of the Good Ones is narrated by multiple characters. Who was your favorite to write and why?
We could never pick! We wanted the sisters in our story to be just as different from one another as we are from our own siblings. Kezi, Happi, and Genny are fierce and kind and hopeful. Maybe not at the same time, but they all have heart. We love that each character is uniquely themselves and going through their own journeys.
You wrote One of the Good Ones together, which is unique. Will you please take us through the writing process? Was it very different from writing your previous book, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, together?
Maika is a “panster” and writes by the seat of her pants. Maritza is a “plotter” because she…plots. Even though we make sure to leave space for inspiration to strike as we write, we work together as plotters to create a really extensive outline. That way we can write at different places and just go back and read through what the other has written and make our own edits as we keep moving forward.
We didn’t procrastinate as much with One of the Good Ones! And Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was much more fun to write. Both stories are incredibly important and tackle heavy topics too but Alaine is so darn snarky and clever so staying in her head for an extended period was wonderful. But we definitely felt pulled to write both stories, even if One of the Good Ones weighed more heavily on our hearts as we wrote.
In your high school, who was an example of One of the Good Ones? And if it was you, what did that experience feel like?
What an interesting question. Our story One of the Good Ones looks to dismantle the notion that we should be trying to prove ourselves worthy of acceptance. Of course, there are people who seek to elevate only certain types of people but we want to actively move away from this because we know that respectability doesn’t save anyone, especially not Black people. Whether someone was a “good one” does not prevent law enforcement or vigilantes from brutalizing Black folks, no matter if we are in high school, a “professional”, or down on our luck. We are worthy because we exist.
One theme running through the novel is the legacy people leave behind. Whether that’s within a family, or in a community hurt by systematic racism. What would you like the legacy of your writing to be?
We are too early in our careers to focus on legacies! We hope our readers, young or young at heart, now or in the distant future, are happy to see themselves represented in our stories and understand that they matter.