Was it once said that behind every great woman lies…. three men? No? Well it does happen because the Spanish author Carmen Mola who just won a $1 million-plus Planeta Prize turned out to be three men, it emerged this weekend.
The men, Jorge Díaz, Agustín Martínez and Antonio Mercero, won the prize for a book titled “The Beast,” a historical thriller set during a cholera epidemic in 1834. “The Beast” follows a serial killer who is hunted down by a journalist, a policeman and a young woman according to The Financial Times.
“We didn’t hide behind a woman, we hid behind a name,” Mercero told Spanish newspaper El País. “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 interviews and on their author profile, Martínez, Díaz and Mercero said Carmen Mola was a university professor who lived in Madrid with her husband and three children. Penguin Random House published Carmen Mola’s most well-known works — a trilogy of violent novels about police inspector Elena Blanco.
The three men worked as scriptwriters under their real names before writing together under the pseudonym Carmen Mola. Their credits include work on TV series “Central Hospital” and “Blind Date”. Critics compare the name Carmen Mola to the Italian author Elena Ferrante, a pseudonymous Italian author.
Carmen Mola’s website features a series of photographs of an unknown woman looking away from the camera. The website for Mola’s agent describes Carmen Mola as a pseudonym used to protect privacy.
Writer Beatriz Gimeno of the Women’s Institute disapproved of the trio’s actions in a tweet that translates to “Quite apart from using a female pseudonym, these guys have spent years doing interviews. It’s not just the name – it’s the fake profile that they’ve used to take in readers and journalists. They are scammers,” according to The Guardian.
On Thursday, Planeta it announced that the main award would be increased from 600,000 to 1 million Euros, more than the Nobel Prize for literature.