Welcome to The Nut Press, Rachel Lyndhurst! Thanks very much for stopping by on your blog tour for Storm’s Heart, which the squirrels and I really enjoyed. It’s a fab modern romance with lots of heat and passion, appealing characters and a lush setting.

Storm’s Heart is your debut novel and it’s described as a “sexy, sophisticated romance”. Have you always written romance or did you try other genres before finding this one suited you?

It’s always been romance, unless you count the ‘Maggot Club’ stories I used to crank out at infant school or the rude poems at college. As a reader, the escapist element of romance really appeals to me, and I don’t enjoy sad endings or gore, so I like it (and there’s the sex of course!).

I love that place is just as much a character in your book as the people and that it plays such an important role. You had the inspiration for Storm’s Heart from a champagne reception on the London Eye (which provides the location for a key scene in Chapter One) and a holiday on Lindos (which you use as your hero’s home). You’ve captured the feel of a Greek island incredibly well in the book. How did you go about creating the place for your book? Especially in the case of Lindos, did you write some of the book there, take lots of notes and photos while on holiday, do you have a photographic memory or did you use images on the web and guidebooks or a combination of all those?

For Storm’s Heart, I did the lot. I went to Lindos, took loads of photos (where it was allowed) and had an internet fest later on for even greater detail on things like local amenities, property and, er, Rhodes town itself (our package holiday only took in the airport!). It’s handy to visit a place to pick up little touches that you wouldn’t find elsewhere, especially when it comes to language and customs. For example the word parakalo is used in a completely different way in Lindos from some other parts of Greece – it’s quite intriguing. However, you can do the job just as well via the internet these days, in my opinion. I’m off to Portofino in my current WIP and I’ve never been there. Fingers crossed though!

Andreas Lazarides is such a terrific romantic hero and to whet everyone’s appetite for him, you cleverly posted pics on your blog of Andres Velencoso Segura. Was he your inspiration for Andreas from the beginning or did Andreas develop as a character and you then looked for pictures of someone who looked how you imagined him? Do you do this for all your characters?

Andres Velencoso Segura wasn’t the beginning of Andreas, the hero of Storm’s Heart. I knew I wanted a tall, dark, brooding Greek and had started writing the story already, but his physical embodiment eventually came to me in a copy of Hello magazine at the hairdressers. The yummy Spaniard was draped all over his girlfriend Kylie Minogue. I turned to my hairdresser and said, ‘He’s nice …’ She agreed, as did the rest of the salon, so the job was his!

I do find it helpful to have a real life base for my heroes, it helps with the physical descriptions, and has turned out to be quite good fun promotion wise after the book’s been published. But I do jig things around a bit; Andreas, my fictional Greek, is a lot more muscular than Andres and he had a few eye colour changes along the way. I’ve had such a lot of fun with him on my blog though!

I’m guessing you came up with the hero, Andreas Lazarides, first because you decided to use a Greek island for one of your locations? If you did, how did you go about finding the right heroine (Kizzy Dean) for him?

Kizzy, my heroine, was born more out of issues and circumstance than by her looks. I wanted her to be at rock bottom, with a dark past and as much the opposite of Andreas as I could get for the initial conflict. Kizzy had been growing in my head for some time and the name cropped up quite often in my ideas box until I put the two of them together. She was almost a trainee banker who gets into a luscious pickle with a Spanish landlord!

Okay, it has to be done. I’ve told the squirrels to go off and hunt for some nuts while we talk about SEX. Writing good sex scenes isn’t easy and your sex scenes are incredibly hot. Any tips on how to write them?

That is such a hard question! Firstly it helps to be alone – I can’t do it with children in the house or the broadband engineer in the next room. I also read a lot of sexy books (sorry mother!) and thoroughly enjoy them – if you can’t do that, then the chances are you’re going to struggle to write them. I’ve been known to write sex scenes when the mood takes me and file them away for the right moment in the future as well. Having a wild imagination helps, as does getting older – I don’t blush quite so much these days, not after two C- sections anyway. And never underestimate the advantages of having a brilliant editor! Or the odd glass of wine …

I enjoyed the fact that you decided to touch on important issues, like domestic violence and minority rights, in your book but were you worried that this might put off some readers or that you might not do the subjects justice in the book?

It’s a tricky one since it’s a short romance that by its very nature has to focus on the developing relationship between the two main characters. I wasn’t worried about putting readers off, as the ‘issues’ don’t take over the plot, but do add back-story and dimension to the characters’ personalities. I was concerned about not doing the subjects justice, but thoroughly researched them all, and I’m prepared for any questions that may head my way as a result. I’m grateful that Embrace even allowed me to touch upon issues such as domestic violence and minority rights – there are publishing houses and editors out there who never would.

Storm’s Heart launched on the same day as your publisher Embrace Books (an imprint of Salt Publishing) launched. You were innovative (and tireless!) in your excellent promotion of both leading up to the launch and on the day itself. Do you enjoy that aspect of being an author?

I love it! The internet has truly opened up the world – how on earth did people promote their books before blogs, websites, Facebook and Twitter? It must have taken forever!

It’s incredible connecting with potential readers and other authors – I’ve learned so much and made so many friends as well. It does eat into your writing time though, so I need to develop a more disciplined approach to the promotional side of things. This includes staring at David Gandy for long periods on YouTube naturally.

Describe your ideal writing day and place.

An empty house or garden, a computer (with functioning broadband!) and no builders next door. Or barking dogs. Or door to door salespersons/cultists.

Now tell us what a ‘real’ or ‘typical’ writing day is like for you.

Pretty dull I’m afraid! I get back from the school run at about nine in the morning and then life rotates around the computer/laptop until just before three in the afternoon. I write/network in this time and try to keep off my bum for a bit by racing around with baskets of washing and other assorted domestic awfulness. Cups of tea, lunch if I remember, and we won’t mention the odd bags of crisps in passing …

Can you read other fiction while you’re working on your own novel or not?

Oh yes, there’s never a day I’m not working on the next novel, so if I didn’t I’d never read another book again! Him Indoors also reads me snippets of books he’s reading – stuff I’d never touch, but some of the prose is beautiful and inspiring.

What books are on your bedside table at the moment OR what book have you enjoyed reading recently that you’d recommend?

Golly, there are so many! My next must read is Getting Away With It by Julie Cohen. I preordered and got my hands on this massive hardback ages ago, but since then I’ve been so busy that I’ve had to stick to shorter books so I don’t get frustrated by my lack of reading time (a lightweight, I know, but I savour every word of a good book). The last book I read was Savage Sun by B L Bonita, which was very hot! Possibly not one you’d give to your great aunty Mable, but ask her, you never know!

And finally, can you tell us a bit about your next novel? I understand there’s a Welsh-Italian hero in it. (Perfect combo, not that I’m biased or anything!)

My current WIP does have a Welsh-Italian in it. Tall and dark, with arctic blue eyes, he’s been thoroughly researched and inspected by moi for any potential flaws (ho ho, tough job etc). There’s a lot of history involving Italian immigrants to the deep, green valleys of South Wales, a lot of passion, a lot of – hang on! My editor’s not even inspected him yet!

Thanks so much for having me, Kath and squirrels, you can come back in now!

Thanks for visiting the Nut Press and answering our questions!

Storm’s Heart is Rachel Lyndhurst’s debut novel and is published by Embrace Books, an imprint of Salt Publishing. Storm’s Heart is available as a paperback or an ebook from Amazon UK or Salt Publishing. To find out more about the author, visit Rachel’s blog or Follow Rachel on Twitter.

You can win your very own signed copy of Storm’s Heart by leaving a comment below by Sunday 20th March.