Author Nora Roberts sues Brazilian writer for copying her work

Writer Nora Roberts said she would donate all the money to a literacy organisation in Brazil.
Writer Nora Roberts said she would donate all the money to a literacy organisation in Brazil.PHOTO: NORA ROBERTS/FACEBOOK

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Writer Nora Roberts on Wednesday (April 24) sued a Brazilian romance novelist for lifting material from 10 of her books.

The author of bestsellers such as The Liar and Vision In White is asking for damages of at least US$24,000 (S$32,700) from Cristiane Serruya, as well as for sales of her books to be stopped unless all plagiarised material is removed.

Roberts said she would donate all the money to a literacy organisation in Brazil.

The suit follows other plagiarism accusations against Serruya.

She could not be reached for comment, but in an e-mail to Roberts' publicist, Serruya said she "never intentionally plagiarised anyone".

She blamed ghostwriters she hired for the overlap between her books and others'.

Roberts said the material taken from her books was often word for word.

For example, a passage in The Liar, published in 2015, reads: "She was beautiful. A man didn't get to be just shy of his 30th birthday without seeing some beautiful women, even if it was just on a movie screen. But this one, in the flesh, was one quick wow."

A passage in Royal Affair by Serruya, published in 2018, reads: "She was beautiful. A man didn't get to be just shy of his 37th birthday without seeing some beautiful women, even if it was just on a movie screen. But that was not the case with Ludwig, who had had more than his share of extraordinarily beautiful women. But this woman, in the flesh, was superlative."

Two months ago, readers discovered similarities between Serruya's novel Royal Love and The Duchess War by Courtney Milan.

Since then, dozens of other novelists - including Tessa Dawn, Loretta Chase and Lynne Graham - have made similar accusations.

More than 40 writers and nearly 100 books are involved so far.

"A lot of the other writers involved in this, they don't have the money to fight it," Roberts said. "I do have the money."

In a series of blog posts in February, she railed against a "sick, greedy, opportunistic culture" that she said is developing because of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, a self-publishing platform in which authors are paid based on how many pages of their books readers read - a system that "incentivises the fast and more", she wrote.

"It affects the entire industry, and it corrupts a really honourable profession," said Roberts. "It makes writers look like hacks."

An Amazon spokesman said it takes "violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously", adding that Serruya's books have been removed from the Amazon marketplace.