Bestselling novelist Nora Roberts has said she is “simply and sincerely appalled” after hundreds of her fans posted threats and abuse online in response to the casting of actor Alyssa Milano in an adaptation of one of her novels.
Milano is to play mystery writer Grace in a forthcoming Netflix adaptation of Brazen Virtue, the 1988 thriller by Roberts, who has written more than 200 books that have sold more than 500m copies around the world.
Within an hour of sharing the news on her Facebook page, Roberts received almost 1,000 comments about the casting, with hundreds of her fans attacking Milano for her role igniting the #MeToo movement and her vocal criticism of Donald Trump’s administration.
In a typical comment, one of Roberts’s fans criticised Milano for “casting 80m people to the curb with hateful spite”. Others said they would never watch the film, while others announced they would stop reading Roberts’s novels, with one even promising to burn all of their copies.
On Wednesday, Roberts released a statement on her website. “By and large I keep politics off my pages. That’s my choice. Now many readers have dragged their own onto this page, so I’m going to state, for the record: I’m a liberal Democrat. Always have been, always will be,” she wrote. “And as one, I’ve always believed everyone has a right to their political beliefs, and has a right to express their opinions. But I don’t have to tolerate insults and ugliness on my page.”
She said she was appalled at “the vitriol, the hatred, the anger, the bitterness and the demands” that followed the announcement.
“Some will never read me again because Milano will headline this adaptation. One reader stated she intended to BURN all my books in her collection for this choice of actress. Think about that. Burning books. Get a visual? I sure do,” she wrote. “Another claims she can only support ‘like-minded’ artists. Really? I only imagine the books, songs, movies I’d have missed if I felt this way and refused to read, watch, listen to those who contributed to or performed them who hold different political viewpoints from my own.”
She said the “viciousness … hurts my heart”. She added: “And realizing because I’m a liberal Democrat, many of those comments are directed at me for that reason alone is a real eye-opener,” she said. “Watch the movie when it comes out, or don’t. But lobbing nastiness at an actress or threatening me doesn’t do anything but illustrate your own limitations.”
Milano’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment.