Maritza Moulite is a first generation Haitian–American author and first–year Penn student pursuing a doctorate in education, with a concentration in reading, writing, and literacy. When discussing her upcoming novel, Moulite speaks of her recent love of American scholar Gloria Anzaldúa, a Chicana academic whose work focused on Chicana cultural theory, feminist theory, and queer theory. She particularly admires how Anzaldúa’s academic work offered something for everyone but was unafraid to speak directly to her Chicana audience. Moulite’s work aims to convey her stories in the way that Anzaldúa does, opening a portal into her emotions.
Moulite explains the difference between “inhale” and “exhale” novels, a concept she learned from another Haitian–American author, Ibi Zoboi. Exhale books are “easy to let out." They’re fun to write. Moulite’s first young adult novel, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, which she wrote in collaboration with her sister Maika, was that type of book. She speaks of a Bronte–esque childhood with her sisters, when instead of watching television, they read and told stories, always searching in checked–out library books for representation of narrators that looked like them.
“I grew up reading a lot of books about white girls with red hair—Anne Shirley, Pippi Longstocking, Alice McKinley—and even though I didn't look like them, I saw myself in their stories.” Moulite says. “My hope is that readers who look like I did as a kid find happiness in seeing themselves on a cover and in my writing. And I want people of any race or gender (or hair color!) to realize that they can find a part of themselves in my books too—and appreciate maybe learning something new about someone different from them.”
“Inhale books” require taking in a great big breath; they require a sometimes painful anticipation. But Moulite explains these novels are often the most important to write. Her upcoming novel, One of the Good Ones, is certainly an inhale novel—and extremely timely. The young adult novel explores a family who is left behind after police kill a sister during a social justice rally. Moulite seeks to capture this grief from a rarely seen young female perspective and explore the way murdered Black people tend to be remembered: one of the good ones, or not.
Moulite hopes her coursework will inform future projects of hers. Though she does plan on prioritizing her Ph.D. over fiction writing until the summer, she constantly finds herself taking note of potential novel ideas. When asked how the pandemic and increased national awareness on racial violence might have changed Moulite’s inhalation process for her second novel, she says, “We would have held an even bigger breath. When we sold this project, Breonna Taylor was alive. That was a name that we had to add to this list of names that is already too long.”
One of the Good Ones is on sale Jan. 5, 2021.