A professor’s imagination comes to life

Chris Barzak

Chris Barzak, an assistant professor of English at Youngstown State University, will see his visions come to life now that his first novel, “One for Sorrow,” is being adapted for the big screen.

“They hope to start filming in February,” Barzak said, adding that the start date is tentative and dependent upon casting.

Julia Gergits, chair of the YSU English Department, said she couldn’t be more proud of Barzak.

“I remember he said he didn’t think about it much because it’s rare,” Gergits said.

Barzak said he has a visual imagination.

“I can see it moving in my head much like a movie. The hard part was translating my visual imagination to literal prose,” Barzak said.

The story revolves around a friendship between two teenagers, Adam McCormick and the ghost of Jamie Marks. It takes place after Marks’ body is found in McCormick’s backyard.

“One for Sorrow” was released in the fall of 2007. By the spring of 2008, Carter Smith showed interest in making Barzak’s novel into a motion picture. Smith optioned the rights in 2012. He also developed the script and sought out producers.

Barzak said Smith has kept in constant contact and brainstormed with him on changes that would be made in transitioning the story from novel to motion picture.

“He genuinely cared what I thought about the changes, and that has made the experience unique,” Barzak said.

Barzak said he’s excited to see the outcome of the movie. He said he wouldn’t mind making a cameo in the movie and hopes the novel can also make an appearance.

“There is a scene where a main character is reading a book in the closet,” Barzak said. “By reading the book, it is implied that he’s reading ‘Catcher in the Rye,’ but I think it would be cute if he was reading ‘One for Sorrow.’”

The movie will be filmed in New York, but Barzak said the names of the places in Mahoning and Trumbull counties that appear in the book will stay the same. Gergits said everything Barzak does reflects well on the YSU community and on Youngstown.

“Certainly, if anyone looks at our Chris, he’s a YSU product as a whole,” Gergits said. “He grew up in the area, attended YSU as a student and now teaches for us part time.”

Gergits said she is excited to see Barzak’s vision on the big screen. “It’s not easy to get published, and it’s certainly not easy to do what Chris has done,” Gergits said.