NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Maika and Maritza Moulite recently sat on the edge of the stage at the North Miami Beach High School’s auditorium. The Miami writers of Haitian descent said it was there where their dream of becoming published authors was born.
They have published two books and they are working on their third. The graduate students said New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer, of thrillers like “The Escape Artist” and the “Ordinary People Change the World” children’s book series, planted the seed of inspiration.
In 2004, Meltzer returned to his alma mater, North Miami Beach High School, to donate about 3,000 books and to talk to students. The Moulite sisters were in the crowd listening attentively and they said he changed their lives that day.
“I saw an actual author who had gone to my school and made me feel like, ‘This gift that you have; you can make something of it,’” Maika Moulite, 32, said.
It had been more than a decade since the Moulite sisters had listened to Meltzer when they decided to reach out to him. They had a publisher, an agent, and they wanted to share their achievement with him. They found his contact information on his website and wrote him an e-mail.
“I felt proud that I could say, ‘Not only did you inspire us but we actually went through this entire process, and here’s the finished product,’” Maika Moulite said.
It turns out the 2004 visit to North Miami Beach Senior High School had also been memorable for Meltzer, who now lives in Hollywood, the city in Broward County.
“I remember leaving there so charged up. Anyone who speaks to a high school knows there is nothing that is as energetic as a kid in high school,” Meltzer said. “Their dreams are bigger than you can ever imagine.”
Maika and Maritza Moulite published “Dear Haiti, Love Alaine” on Sept. 3, 2019. The young adult fiction novel follows the journey of Alaine Beauparlant, the teenage daughter of divorced Haitian immigrants. The National Public Radio’s book critic said it “tackles divorce, race, class strata, immigration, Alzheimer’s abuse, vodou, fate versus free will, and Haiti’s past and present.”
Meltzer promised to read it, push it and promote it. He remembers telling them they could count him in. True to his word, Meltzer took the sisters’ book with him to the Miami Book Fair stage at Miami Dade College, and while promoting his own novel, he told his fans to read the Moulite sisters’ book.
Meltzer didn’t know the Moulite sisters were in the audience until he saw them from the corner of his eye, and said, “Those authors are sitting here, right now.” He said the place just went nuts and there were people in tears.
“The whole crowd turned around to look at us and they all started clapping and ... they were like, ‘Stand up!’,” Maritza Moulite, 30, said.
“Dear Haiti, Love Alaine” was one of the most well-reviewed young adult novels of 2020. This year, on Jan. 5, the Moulite sisters published their second book, “One of the Good Ones.” Their publisher is Harper Collins, one of the world’s largest publishing companies.
Critics and Meltzer are already raving about it.
“No one is cheering louder for them than I am,” Meltzer said.
The sisters’ new book is a thriller about Kezi Smith, a high school Black teen activist who mysteriously died while in police custody after getting arrested during a protest. Smith was inspired by Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old student who George Zimmerman fatally shot on Feb. 26, 2012.
“What happened to Trayvon Martin has been many years now and still it continues to happen, and when we saw that something just resonated with us because his Miami was our Miami,” Maika Moulite said.
The sisters are writing their third novel as they work on their doctorates. Maika Moulite is at Howard University. She earned a bachelor’s in marketing from Florida State University and a master’s in business administration from the University of Miami.
Maritza Moulite is at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from the University of Florida and a master’s in journalism from the University of Southern California. She has already worked for NBC News, CNN and USA Today. Comedian Seth Meyers recently had the sisters on his show and brought up her time with NBC News.
“Having Seth Meyers say to me, ‘Hey! You used to work here!’ I am like, ‘Yeah! I know. This is crazy.’”
Meltzer continues to spread his message: ”Life is a trapeze. All you have to do is leap, so anyone out there with that dream, I hope you chase it.”
The sisters are now also passing on their own message of hope.
“You can do whatever you want, just work hard at it, make a plan, reach out to the people who have inspired you, and there is a good chance that they will help you in your journey to what you want to do,” Maritza Moulite said.