The acclaimed work of Spanish female author Carmen Mola is actually the fruits of three men, it has emerged.
Mola's true identity was revealed on Friday night when Jorge Díaz, Agustín Martínez, and Antonio Mercero stepped up on stage to receive the 1 million euro (about $1,160,000) Planeta literary prize for Mola's historical thriller "The Beast," Business Insider reported.
The three men have presented Mola to the public as a university professor and mother of three who wrote crime thriller novels, often featuring strong female protagonists, on her off-time. They chose to write under the pseudonym for no particular reason.
"Carmen Mola is not, like all the lies we've been telling, a university professor," Díaz said shortly after accepting the Planeta prize, according to the Financial Times. "We are three friends who one day four years ago decided to combine our talent to tell a story."
The trio also appeared to have given little thought to the gender of the name.
"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," Mercero told Spain’s El País newspaper. "We didn’t hide behind a woman, we hid behind a name."
Mola's past work has been well received. "La Novia Gitana" has been translated into 11 languages and will be developed into a television series while a branch of Spain’s Women’s Institute listed her book "La Nena" as one of 50 feminist titles that help readers "understand the reality and experiences of women."
The revelation of Mola's identity has sparked backlash, with critics accusing the three men of exploitation and deception.
"Beyond the use of a female pseudonym, these guys have been answering interviews for years," tweeted former Head of the Women's Institute Beatriz Gimeno. "It is not only the name, it is the fake profile with which it has taken readers and journalists. They are scammers."
Reporter Leticia Blanco meanwhile pointed out that the fake profile was a "great marketing operation.
"It hasn't escaped anyone's notice that the idea of a university professor and mother of three who taught algebra classes in the morning then wrote ultraviolent, macabre novels in scraps of free time in the afternoon made for a great marketing operation," Blanco wrote for Spain's El Mundo newspaper.
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