A popular female thriller author in Spain who has been lauded for her feminism recently won a prestigious award for her latest novel. During the award ceremony, “she” turned out to be three male television scriptwriters.
For years, Spain’s literary world has gushed over Carmen Mola, whose bio describes her as a “Madrid-born author” who is a university professor and mother of three who writes under a pseudonym to protect her identity. The author’s bio included a photo of an unknown woman looking away from the camera. Many of “Mola’s” books feature the lead character of detective Elena Blanco, described by Penguin Random House as a “peculiar and solitary woman, who loves grappa, karaoke, classic cars and sex in SUVs.”
Her latest novel, “The Beast” — about a serial killer operating during 1834 who is ultimately brought down by a young woman and a journalist helping police — won an award at the Planeta awards that took place Friday night. Audience members were shocked when three television scriptwriters – Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz, and Antonio Mercero – stood up to accept the award and reveal that they had been writing as Mola all along, CNN reported. The award came with a €1 million prize as well.
The three men gave an interview to Spain’s El Mundo newspaper following the revelation. In the article, the newspaper wrote that “It is not lost on anyone that the idea of a university professor and mother of three, who teaches algebra classes in the morning and, in the afternoon, writes novels of savage and macabre violence has been a good marketing operation.”
The men were criticized by feminists for their deception, with Beatriz Gimeno, the former director of Spain’s Women’s Institute, calling the men “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. Scammers,” Gimeno said in a tweet, according to CNN.
Just last year, a regional branch of the Women’s Institute added Mola’s novels to a list of “feminist reading,” which also included writers like Margaret Atwood and Irene Vallejo.
In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, one of the male writers, Mercero, insisted the trio “didn’t hide behind a woman, we hid behind a name.” He added that he didn’t “know if a female pseudonym would sell more than a male one, I don’t have the faintest idea, but I doubt it.”
But part of the mystique surrounding Mola was the alleged tension between her professional, married life and her life as writer whose subjects tend to be “gory and graphic,” according to CNN.
As The Guardian reported, the Planeta prize is only awarded to unpublished manuscripts, which must then be published, meaning even though the revelation surround Mola may have ruffled feathers, the book will still be released.