John Halsted was educated at Westville Boys High, just outside Durban, South Africa, where he spent more time on the sports field, gaining honours for athletics, and just managing to graduate. An avid reader of adventure stories, his lack of interest in academia led his teachers and parents to despair, while his coach rejoiced.
In the two years following high school he commenced national service in the South African Air Force and spent more time on athletics tours and having a good time, never fully committed to the defence of apartheid - as his Sergeant Major will readily testify. After completing his national service he spent the better part of eighteen months cycling and touring around Europe.
On returning to South Africa in 1980 he found a job as a shipping clerk and when the opportunity presented itself he transferred to Johannesburg, only so he could continue his athletics career. In 1982 he found himself managing a container depot. It was here that he was run over by a seven-and-half-ton forklift truck and his athletics career brought to a screaming halt – both literally and figuratively. He spent three months in an orthopaedic hospital recuperating. It was also at this time that the Western nations applied strict sanctions against South Africa due the country’s apartheid policies and the shipping industry all but died. Not long after leaving hospital he found himself out of a job without any marketable skills. The easy times were over, he had to skill up.
In 1983 he found employment as an internal auditor with a major motor manufacturer. Searching for the ideal career he later transferred to the Accounts and Finance department. In 1985 he went to night classes and trained as a computer programmer transferring (again) to the I.T. department.
In 1986 he met his future wife Joy, a Kiwi Occupational Therapist, on assignment from the International Leprosy Mission, at Westfort Hospital, Pretoria. They married in 1987 and in 1988 moved to Auckland, New Zealand where they had two children.
In 1991 the family were transferred from Auckland to Wellington. In 1994 he changed career stream (again) to project management, finally finding his ideal career which gives him the fun, the challenge and the variety he requires. Their third child was born in 1996 and their fourth in 1998.
In 1999 the family moved to England, the birth place of his Grandmother. In 2001 he made a poignant journey to Sagan, Poland where his father spent three years as a PoW.
Always relishing a challenge he has cycled 300m/480km from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean through France alongside the Canal du Midi and 500m/800km across northern Spain on the Way of St James.
In 2000 he started an Executive MBA at Bath University, which he successfully completed in 2002. On completion of his MBA he realised just how much time he had on his hands and commenced an in-depth personal study of Viking history (from which his family are allegedly descended) and the history of the Silk Road. Finding an actual link between the two, by the time he finished his research he found he had a book on his hands.
Never content with just a text book, John inserted characters into this fascinating period in history. Join Ulf Uspakson and his crew of Vikings, Moslems and Jews as they sail, ride and battle their way from the European Steppe along the Silk Route into China's nortorious Taklamakan desert. Experience the kameraderie, betrayal, hate, love, lust and greed of an epic journey across the roof of the world.
Legend of the Last Vikings - Taklamakan was published in December 2006. ISBN 0978589297