A volcanic plain in middle-Earth, basked in gray light, where fumes leak from fissures in the Earth. This doesn’t sound like the safest place for a child, but there were few places John Bachkosky would rather be during his youth.
Bachkosky read day and night during his adolescence, using his imagination to transform his backyard into Mordor, Mars and Hogwarts. Inspired by epic fantasies like “Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter,” “The Last Airbender” and “Game of Thrones,” Bachkosky released his own story, “The Last Wizard,” on April 28.
Set in the world of Kyros, the story follows tyrannical ruler King Gjanion, who has convinced his subjects that he is the last wizard. While seeking to crush the rebellion that has risen against him, Gjanion encounters Mara — the true last wizard. Fearing the exposure of his lies, the king tries to silence Mara, who fights to protect those she loves. Her adoptive parents, Zhira and Gant, use alchemy to support her journey, to find the rebellion, and to help end the king's reign.
Bachkosky called his story character-driven, fast-paced, and relatable, paying homage to the genre’s classic tales while still managing to find a unique voice.
“The influences I have are rampant, but the different elements turn them on their heads,” he said. “It’s a new world.
“I wanted to do something with a non-standard family dynamic. Not only is Mara adopted; her parents are brothers. It lends itself to a lot of unique interactions.”
Bachkosky developed his skills by writing short stories before he penned “The Last Wizard.”
“I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to create character arcs, and the process was really organic.”
Bachkosky has ties to the area as the varsity swimming coach at Severna Park High School. Writing and swimming are not his only hobbies. He has completed multiple Ironman races, has been the lead singer of a band, and currently works as an aerospace engineer.
With “The Last Wizard,” he has fulfilled a lifelong dream, but he doesn’t plan on stopping there. He’s in the early stages of writing a sequel.
“I hope everyone enjoys the uniqueness of it, or that it inspires others to write,” Bachkosky said. “It’s a new take on a well-written genre.”