Welcome to my website, I am a  freelance writer and try to be a poet.I have written  and published my first novel ‘The Whispering Wind’ and am now working on my second one.  It is also set in Sardinia, but in 1855 and has taken quite a bit of research, which I love.

Sardinia is a magical island and I hope to impart some of its enchantment to the reader in my books.

The Whispering Wind‘  has won finalist in the ROMANCE section for The Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2014
and finalist in the ROMANCE & LITERARY FICTION for The National Excellence Indie Book Awards 2014

Please feel free to comment as I love feedback from my readers.

Falling in love with Sardinia, an interview with author Lexa Dudley

Posted on Aug 14, 2014 by Kathryn Burrington

Blog > Falling in love with Sardinia, an interview with author Lexa Dudley

Earlier this year I reviewed a romantic novel set on the island of Sardinia which I thoroughly enjoyed, despite it having me in floods of tears at one point.

It quite literally broke my heart, but ‘The Whispering Wind’ by Lexa Dudley isn’t just a great love story, it also offers a wonderful insight into life on the island, its landscapes, traditions and people. So when I had the chance to find out more about Lexa and her inspiration for the book, I took full advantage.

Lexa first visited Sardinia way back in 1972. Her husband was under doctor’s orders to take a complete rest, so they planned a family holiday to Corsica. Finding it fully booked they changed track and booked into a new hotel in the south of Sardinia, near Pula.

Lexa explained: ”We had to look Sardinia up on the map but it turned out to be a really wonderful two-week holiday with our four sons. As well as learning to water-ski, we learnt a lot about the island and its people.

“One evening, we organised a BBQ on the beach with the help of one of the locals who worked at our hotel. We were all looking forward to freshly roasted suckling pig when it started raining before the BBQ was even lit. To our surprise and delight, our new friend arranged for us instead to have the meal in a hunting lodge belonging to his friend, the butcher who had supplied the meat for our feast. What a memorable evening that turned out to be. The Sards all sat at one end of the table, the English at the other. The conversations went from Sardinian and Italian to French and then to English and back again. We were all made to feel so very welcome and didn’t return to our hotel until the early hours of the following morning with promises that we would return again next year.

“We went back to the same hotel for the next 14 years, as we had become friends with the owners and all the staff; it became home from home. When the owners retired we found ourselves another magical place to stay and have been going there for nearly 30 years.”

Lexa told me how her love for Sardinia and its people with their unshakable faith and unquestionable loyalty, inspired her to write the book.

“They say if you make a friend of a Sard you have that friendship for life and I know that to be true.

“They have a code by which they live which has hardly changed over the centuries. I have a girlfriend who is married to a Sard and when she goes to her home in the mountains and goes out for a walk on her own; the phone is ringing in the UK to tell her husband she is out. So back in 1969 the relationship between the central characters, Beppe and the married Elise, would have gone against everything they held to be right and proper. It was this that interested me and prompted me to write the book.”

When I read ‘The Whispering Wind’ I found the details about the island, The Sards and their culture and customs fascinating. Lexa had obviously done her homework when it came to researching the book.

“I have travelled a lot over Sardinia and visited all the places mentioned in the book. I have also been there at different times of the year and have seen her in the glorious colours of spring and the dryness of September and rain in October.

“I first saw the Sagra Sant’Efisio in May 1975 and again in a couple of years ago. It still moves me, although I am not a Roman Catholic, I find the devotion and belief of the Sards, both young and old, very moving. I have also seen the Redentore in Nuoro in the 1980s. I have found that, although everyone is very welcome, the festivals are still for the Sards themselves rather than the tourists.”

While I love writing, the thought of taking on a project as large as a novel is daunting, so my next question was just how long does it take to write such book?

“I started writing it back in the 1980s and could have decorated the loo walls with the rejection slips. We moved and the manuscript got put away. We actually moved a number of times before finally settling in our present home.

“As I came up to retirement (from helping my husband with his business), he suggested I found the book and do something with it. So I read it, knew why I had so many rejection slips, sat down and rewrote it. With editing it took about two years, between family events and numerous trips back to Sardinia. It was all well-worth it and I have been lucky enough to win prizes in America for the book in both romance and Literary fiction.”

With Lexa’s obvious passion for Sardinia I was curious about whether she had ever thought of moving there.

“Yes, I would move there tomorrow, but someone once said you should never live in the land of your dreams, as it can become a nightmare and you have nowhere to retreat. My family is mostly in the UK and with three or four trips a year I am happy, but yes I would love to move there.”

I was also curious if there was anything about Sardinia that Lexa didn’t like.

“There is not much to dislike about Sardinia. When we first went there in the 1970s it was actually a bit of a tip with rubbish and old burnout cars dumped everywhere. It still has its problems, but is much better. Cagliari has grown over the 42 years I have known it and when I look back at photos taken at that time I can hardly believe it is the same city with its café culture, smart shops and wonderful new marina. It still remains a great and safe place to stay.”

And I was equally curious about whether she had a favourite time of year to visit or a favourite festival or event.

“I love the spring, we went in April this year and the colours of the island were breathtaking, the watercourses were full and everywhere was green, with the meadows a riot of wild flowers.

“By June the sun has dried the grasses and the flowers have faded, but there is a breeze that passes over the island all the time making it feel fresh. In September the sea is warm but the land almost parched, but still beautiful. If you want the beaches, well any time in the summer is wonderful as there are some amazing white sands and small coves, just about whatever you could wish for and only a couple of hours away.”

Lexa continued “The Sagra di Sant’Efisio has to be my favourite event; it is from the 1st to 4th May when the whole island joins in the festival. The villages that take part are different each year and are chosen by ballot. The villagers turn out with their intricate costumes. Young and old, men and women are in their traditional dress, so many villages and so many different designs. The statue of Sant’Efisio is taken from Cagliari to Pula, where the saint was originally beheaded, then returned to Cagliari on the fourth day. Everywhere is decked out with bunting and there is a real party atmosphere.”

Having loved Lexa’s first book so much I had just one more question to ask. Was another in the pipeline?

“I am writing a new novel called Children of the Mists which is a historic romance set in Sardinia in 1855. The research for this has been really interesting and so many people have helped me with the traditions and way of life at that time. As you can tell I find it difficult to write about any other country, but then Sardinia is in my soul.”

Excellent news – but hopefully it won’t take quite as so long from start to finish as I really can’t wait to read it.

Photographs courtesy of Lexa Dudley.

#Sagra Sant’Efisio #Cagliari 1st – 4th May each year.

The coach with the saint

In Cagliari , the traditional Feast of Efisio, from the 1st to May 4, 2014 , this year is the 358th edition , is  a manifestation of secular devotion, faith, culture and traditions that make it unique in the world. The Procession of Folk  Programme May 1, 2014: The procession begins on  the first of May when oxcarts are festively decorated “ traccas “;followed by folk groups in costume, walking, singing or reciting the prayers of the religious tradition of the island, the goccius; folk groups  follow on horseback. 10.00 The traditional wagons of the campidano are called traccas, lead the procession. followed the many different colours of Sardinian costumes: 3,500 people in traditional costumes from all over the island. 300 horses are in the following three groups: the Knights campidanesi, the Militia, the Caretaker.  12.00 Out of Ephisius through the following path: path Azuni, Piazza Yenne, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Via Sassari, Piazza del Carmine, Via Crispi, Via GM Angioy, Via Mameli, Largo Carlo Felice, Via Roma (City side), Via Sassari (lower part) La Playa Avenue, Fishermen’s Village, Georgie, Church of Efisio to San Georgie (15:00). Arrive at church Efisio to Georgie is replaced with the coach and are made to wear the Holy traveling clothes. Maddalena Beach, procession along the provincial road until the junction with Golden Fruits and park with outdoor Mass in the square opposite the Church of Efisio Su Loi. Brief stop for the oxen. Resuming the journey up to Villa d’Orri in the chapel where the property of the Marquis of Villahermosa is celebrated a Mass in commemoration of the dead. Blessing and departure for Sarroch place where the saint spent the night in the church of the same name. Program Religious Procession May 2 08:00 Mass Departure to Villa San Pietro. Procession, Mass and departure to Pula municipal authorities, the Confraternity and the faithful are waiting for the Holy to begin the procession through the village. Mass and lunch. 18:00 Celebration of the Mass before the start of the simulacrum for Nora. Festival in front of the statue to commemorate the dead. Layover in front of the cemetery to commemorate the dead. Benediction in the Church of St. Raymond. Departure for Nora, stop the statue next to the command of the Navy , lowering of the flag and then leave for Nora for the celebration of the Holy Mass. May 3 07:30 Mass until 11:00 am celebrated by the diocesan ordinary air. 18:30 Procession with the statue along the path that leads to the ruins of Nora and then return to the beach.  Holy Mass and departure to Pula. May 4 08:00 From Pula after Mass to get to Cagliari at around 22:30. May 5 Mass. Afternoon from the 5th to 25th day novena in honor of the saint. On May 22 you spend 40 hours of veneration of the saint and on this occasion it will read the rosary spanning the entire life of St Efisio On May 25 closes calebrazione officially the holiday in honor of St Efisio. Source: www.cagliariturismo.it Translated by google   All the family and friends In my novel The Whispering Wind Elise goes to this festival and and is completely overwhelmed by the Sardes and their traditions.   At Cagliari, Efisio parked the car near Via Buoncammino. The walk down to Via Ignazio took them past the Roman amphitheatre, which was carved out of white rock. Wild flowers and weeds grew in profusion among the now silent terraced steps, softening the hard outlines, but the shadows of the passageways from which the gladiators had emerged to fight the Christians, each other or the animals, still looked dark and menacing. They continued along the street, joining others walking in pairs or small groups. The sound of music could be heard in the distance, and when they rounded the corner by the hospital, the sudden sight of milling crowds, the people in varied-coloured costumes and the magnificently decorated traccus took Elise’s breath away. People were everywhere. Some were holding horses, while others put the final touches to their manes and bridles. One young girl was cupping a horse’s nose in her hands and giving it a kiss. Other young girls were arranging their costumes. horsemanDCF 1.0 Old men helped their families with their carts, and old women were making sure everything was perfect. The smell of animals and the fresh flowers from some of the traccus mingled in the morning heat and filled the senses. Young children in costume sat perched on the carts and babies, in miniature costumes, rested or slept in proud parents’ arms. The whole scene was a heady mass of colour, music and smells, and Elise breathed it all in with pleasure. Efiso, Maria and Elise, deafened by the babble of voices, pushed their way along the crowded narrow streets into the Piazza Matteotti. On either side of the route, backed on one side by the municipal building and on the other by the gardens, were the canopy-covered seats. The local dignitaries were already in their places, some dressed in the full uniform of the service they represented while others wore the costume appropriate to their civil position. People jostled and pushed one another in their effort to find a good vantage point. The music grew louder, and a cheer went up from those in the wide street of Largo Carlo Felice. Children were lifted onto their father’s shoulders, while young men clambered up lampposts or hung from windowsills in order to get a better view of the oncoming procession. Maria pulled Elise toward the maroon-covered stands; all three of them were short enough to stand there without blocking the view of those seated behind, because it was built up on staging. Just as they reached their places, the band of the Carabiniere came into view, followed by the first of the decorated carts. Bullocks decorationbeautiful colours   The ox-drawn traccus lurched precariously with each turn of its great wheels, rocking all the people on board in a camel-like motion. The girls, all decked out in their fine jewellery, looked lovely in their colourful skirts and blouses. The men, too, were resplendent in their costumes; waving and smiling as they threw sweets called dolci Sardi to the eager crowd. Cart after cart followed, each one distinctive in its own way, displaying hand-made rugs and home-spun tapestries. Hand-turned pots rocked uneasily while newly beaten metal pans and bells jangled discordantly together. Each cart had the name of its town on the front, and as the people from the town saw their cart a great roar would go up. All around there was the buzz of the crowd; some applauding, while others called to their friends. P1030716Traccas   They all waved frantically. Maria called to Margherita, who waved back on seeing her mother and father. Ignazio and Predu were playing their guitars together with Gavinu and Stefano, accompanying the girls, who were singing a traditional song. Another group in the crowd, obviously from Pula, roared and whistled at the traccus, and Margherita and the two other girls threw them some sweets. More music filled the air; this time the rasping notes of an accordion rose above all the chatter of the crowd. Elise craned her neck forward to see what else was following. Behind the last traccus came groups of people on foot, each representing their village. The first ones carried a small banner announcing that the following dancers and players were from Sinnai. The men’s costumes were similar to those of most of the men throughout the island, but these tied their berrita around their forehead with a large, red-spotted handkerchief. The women’s dresses were of heavy brocade, topped with an elaborate waistcoat with a jewelled front over which spilled the fine, white cotton, lace mantilla. Representatives of Osilo had intricately embroidered, silk borders to their red, velvet capriccio or headdress; while those from Gavoi wore heavily-pleated red skirts bordered with brocade and embroidery, with boleros in matching brocade. P1040129P1040106   Still, the procession continued with a riot of colour under the increasing heat of the sun. Once more, the music changed and the group in front of where they were standing formed a circle, dancing with tiny steps that traced out stories and movements handed down through the generations. The Ollolai group, dancing in front of Elise, wore the most beautiful costumes, rich in embroidery and design. They were a startling contrast to the women of Tempio, whose black-and-white costumes made them look like novice nuns, the severity of their clothes adding a mystic charm to the wearer and giving them an air of dignity. People came forward and threw rice and rose petals at the dancing groups of girls and young men. Soon the road was covered by rose petals and their scent hung in the late morning air. scattering rose petalsP1040729 Fishermen came after the dancers; carrying nets or models of the rush boats used in the Nurra area of Sardinia. A couple of them proudly carried fish on the ends of their spears. Then there was the man from Cabras with a green bow tied around his big toe. ‘Not so poor that he couldn’t afford something on his feet,’ whispered Maria. Girls followed carrying bowls or baskets on their heads, in which were the dolci Sardi or local Sardinian bread made in various shapes especially for the festa. After them came the shepherds, one carrying a little white lamb slung around his neck like a small woolly scarf, contrasting with the black fur of his coat. Elise noticed that the lamb was quite content to be held in place by its four feet, and was surveying the noisy, colourful scene with wondering eyes.   ‘The woollen waistcoat he is wearing is called a mastrucca,’ said Efisio. ‘The shepherds wear them a lot in the mountains.’ P1040381P1040398   But Elise wasn’t listening. A number of horses had come into sight, all beautifully decorated with their colourful trappings, and she was looking for Beppe. The men looked dashing riding their carefully groomed mounts. Some had young girls up behind them, either riding sidesaddle, as Elise had done earlier, or astride the horse with their pleated skirts spread out over the animal’s rump. P1040434P1040530   Suddenly, Beppe was there, at the corner on Elise’s side of the street, his eyes searching the crowd. Efisio and Maria called out and waved to him, but Elise could only gaze in breathless admiration. He looked splendid, so handsome, with his horse’s coat gleaming in the sunlight; like a character out of the Sard book she had been reading. Beppe reined his horse momentarily, took a rose and some sprigs of rosemary from the bridle, and handed the small token to Elise. He was wearing his berrita at a jaunty angle and it made him look more mischievous than ever. Extract from The Whispering Wind