Female Spanish Writer Who Won Million-Euro Prize Revealed to Be 3 Men Writing Under Pseudonym

“Carmen Mola is not, like all the lies we’ve been telling, a university professor,” one of the authors said after the shocking revelation

Carmen Mola, Jorge Diaz, Agustin Martinez and Antonio Mercero
Jorge Diaz, Agustin Martinez and Antonio Mercero. Photo: Kike Rincon/Europa Press via Getty Images

Although it was no secret that Spanish writer Carmen Mola wrote under a pseudonym, fans of the author were shocked to learn that the writer's work actually came from a trio of men.

The revelation came on Friday night at a ceremony for the annual Planeta literary prize, which this year awarded 1 million euros (about $1,161,705) for Mola's unpublished novel The Beast, which is set to be released in November, according to the Planeta Prize's website.

At the ceremony, television writers Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero went onstage to accept the award, revealing that they were the ones behind the work.

An author page from Mola's agent describes her as a Madrid-born writer who used a pseudonym in order to remain anonymous. The page also features a black-and-white photo of a woman turned away from the camera.

Mola had previously been presented as a female university professor living in Madrid with a husband and children, per CNN.

Although the text on the agency page has not been updated since the revelation, it does feature media releases about the author's true identity.

carmen mola
Carmen Mola. Amazon

"Carmen Mola is not, like all the lies we've been telling, a university professor," Díaz said afterwards, according to the Financial Times. "We are three friends who one day four years ago decided to combine our talent to tell a story."

"We didn't hide behind a woman, we hid behind a name," Mercero said in another interview with Spanish newspaper El País, according to The Guardian. "I don't know if a female pseudonym would sell more than a male one, I don't have the faintest idea, but I doubt it."

In an article accompanying their interview with the authors, El País reflected on how the public's original perception of the author's identity concentrated on Mola's "ultraviolet, macabre novels... made for a great marketing operation."

Mola — whose work has been compared to Elena Ferrante, the beloved pseudonymous Italian novelist behind the Neapolitan Novels, including My Brilliant Friend — has been heralded as "crime literature's boldest and most enigmatic author," according to publisher Penguin Random House.

The Inspector Elena Blanco trilogy which does not include the author's upcoming novel follows a "peculiar and solitary" female police inspector "who loves grappa, karaoke, classic cars and sex in SUVs," according to The Guardian.

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The revelation about the Spanish author has been met with some criticism.

​​Beatriz Gimeno — a former director of Spain's Women's Institute, a governmental institution working towards gender equality — called Martínez, Díaz and Mercero "scammers."

"Beyond using a female pseudonym, these guys have spent years doing interviews. It's not just the name, it's the fake profile they've used to take in readers and journalists," Gimeno wrote, according to CNN.

Last year, Mola's work was also recommended by a regional branch of the Women's Institute as part of a selection of"feminist reading" to "help us understand the reality and the experiences of women in different periods of history and contribute to raising awareness about rights and freedom," per The Guardian.

According to the Washington Post, The Beast was initially submitted for the Planeta Prize under a different pseudonym.

Carmen Mola is still listed as an author on Penguin Random House's website. The publisher did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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