Georgia Toffolo: I had to get portrayal of disability right in my book

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Georgia Toffolo  (handout)
Georgia Toffolo (handout)

Georgia Toffolo has said she feels a “massive responsibility” to portray disability correctly in her latest novel which features a protagonist in a wheelchair.

Ms Toffolo - known as Toff - found fame on Channel 4’s Made in Chelsea before going on to win I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here.

The star-turned-author is releasing her third book - Meet Me In Tahiti - with romance publisher Mills & Boon next month.

Her story follows lead character Zoe who has been a wheelchair user since her teenage years.

Speaking about the book, she said she wanted to “shine a light on people who are wheelchair users” through her romantic fiction but she admitted as she was “addressing things that are a reality to so many people, I had to get it right.”

Toff said she had put a “lot” of research into the book, including working with mobility charity Whizz-Kidz, to ensure it was accurate.

The 26-year-old has dedicated the book - which is out in September - to the children she met through the charity.

She said: “I am so nervously excited about this one. I was very strong with the publishers and they agreed with me that I didn’t want to shy away from the disability. It is documenting every part of her life, from love to the loss of things she can and can’t do.

“Whizz-Kidz really helped us nail down this story and made sure that we are really telling Zoe’s story correctly. Without their help my book wouldn’t be - in my opinion - as powerful as it is. I hope we have got it right. It is a massive responsibility, when you are an author - this is my third venture into fiction but when you are addressing things that are a reality to so many people, I had to get it right. I really hope people love it. It is a very important book.”

In 2020, Toff revealed she was writing a four-part series for British romance publisher Mills & Boon.

Her first, Meet Me In London, was published in October last year and her second, Meet Me in Hawaii, earlier this year.

Toff said she was on a “crusade” to eliminate the “snobbery” surrounding romantic fiction.

“There is a snobbery surrounding chic lit,” she said. “But I think, particularly after the 18 months we have had, it is ok to say: ‘I found refuge in a really easy read. Where there is a happy ending at the end.’

“I feel very blessed to be a Mills & Boon author. Every one of my books has a naughty scene in it. You can spice it up a bit, I am not talking 50 Shades of Grey - but if you want to go into the world of love, I think it would be a travesty if there wasn’t a big chrescendo towards that.”

However, she admitted recording audiobooks for her work could be a bit awkward when she got to the “naughty scenes”.

“It is a nightmare when I do my audiobooks. I die inside,” she joked.

According to the Publishers Association, UK consumer book sales climbed 7per cent to £2.1bn in 2020 as people "rediscovered their love of reading" in lockdown.

Meet Me in Tahiti by Georgia Toffolo is published on 2 September in paperback, eBook and audiobook, by Mills & Boon, priced £7.99.

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