‘SUMMER lovin’, happened so fast.’ So Olivia Newton John sang a little wistfully back in 1978 (that John Travolta, he’s all talk).

Forty years on, the holiday romance shows no sign of losing its story appeal. From Shirley Valentine to Dirty Dancing, Mamma Mia to, well, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, summer holidays remain a shorthand for love.

One person who knows all about the power of holiday romances is bestselling Salisbury writer Mandy Baggot.

From the publication of her first book, Excess All Areas, back in 2008, Mandy has gone on to write a further fifteen novels over the last decade. Along the way, she has won awards, including the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the 2012 Festival of Romance, and has a string of bestsellers to her name.

These days, Mandy writes on a schedule of two books a year: a Christmas romance that comes out in time for the festive season, and a summer one in time for the holidays.

Her latest novel, Desperately Seeking Summer, was published a couple of weeks ago and is pitched by her publisher as ‘The perfect feel-good Greek romantic comedy’.

It tells the story of Abby, who loses her job and boyfriend in Romsey before heading for Corfu to help out her family’s struggling estate agency.

Here she meets gorgeous gardener Theo ...

I’m possibly not Mandy’s target audience but even so, it’s difficult not to be charmed by the warmth and humour that she brings to her storytelling.

She also knows her settings well: a number of Mandy’s novels have been set in Corfu and that is helped by regular visits there.

Mandy told me she visits half a dozen times a year and continues to learn Greek to know the place better. Family holidays there double up as research trips, with Mandy discreetly making notes when out and about of potential locations.

Writing romantic fiction, a bit like the plotlines in romantic fiction itself, doesn’t always run smoothly.

To write the books for her summer/Christmas schedule, Mandy finds herself having to write the novels at the opposite time of the year. So while the rest of have been sweltering in the summer heatwave, Mandy has been listening to Michael Bublé CDs and lighting Christmas-scented candles to get her in the festive writing mood.

I asked Mandy why romantic fiction continues to sell so well. She drew a comparison with the current growth of ‘up-lit’ novels – stories with a kinder, more positive outlook than the previous vogue for psychological thrillers. They’re an escape from the trials of everyday life, Mandy explains.

A bit like summer holidays themselves.

Desperately Seeking Summer by Mandy Baggot is out now in paperback. .