"My Star" is a historical fiction short story by Briaa Clausell, a freshman student at Huston-Tillotson University, about Malachi, an eight-year-old boy living in Harlem, New York with his mother and father.
The story was inspired by a book Briaa read at a young age, which also starred a young boy navigating the Harlem Renaissance. "We often see points of view from a more mature perspective during this time," says Briaa, "so I decided to change the narrative" by featuring a child, allowing her to hint at the hardships and victories of being Black during the Harlem Renaissance, but allow them to be in the background due to her narrator's young age. Readers are invited to bring their own interpretations to Malachi's story by applying their more adult perspectives to the events happening around him.
While one challenge she faced during this project was "a brick wall" of creating dialogue, worrying that it would be "stiff, too much, or too little", she brought her own experiences into the narrative by basing Malachi on her own little brother, Malakhi. Briaa also adapted the project as she worked on it, moving from a longer narrative form towards a short story format, and into a new genre, historical fiction, she considered to be outside of her comfort zone. Because food has brought together the Black community for generations, she would have enjoyed recreating the breakfast from the opening scene as an actual meal!
Briaa says, "Doing the Artist-in-Residence program as a freshman in college gave me an early boost of confidence in my writing. Going forward, I’ll be more willing to share my work with others, and continue to push forward as I step more-and-more outside my box, and grow creatively. "