Spain's most popular female thriller writer has shocked the world when appeared on stage to pick up the prestigious million euros book prize.
Carmen Mola, the critically-acclaimed Spanish female author, turned out to be the pseudonym of three men.
At the prize-giving ceremony of the 2021 Premio Planeta literary prize on Friday, three men instead of Carmen Mola surprised the attendees with the revelation.
When the award was announced television scriptwriters Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero took to the stage to pick up the prize money and reveal the celebrated crime author did not actually exist, The Guardian reported.
All three of them are accomplished writers in their own right.
On the website for Mola's agent, the writer is described as a "Madrid-born author" writing under a pseudonym in a bid to remain anonymous. The description for Mola on the website also contains a series of photographs of an unknown woman looking away from the camera.
"We didn't hide behind a woman, we hid behind a name," Mercero told a Spanish newspaper when asked, adding, "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".
The three presented Mola as a mother of three and a university professor who wrote violent, grim books in her free time.
The Mola novels are well known for being gory and graphic -- and Spanish media has noted in the past that the contrast between Mola's supposed life as a married university professor and the violent nature of the books served as a useful marketing tool.
"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 ultra-violent, macabre novels in scraps of free time in the afternoon, made for a great marketing operation," Spanish paper El Mundo stated in an article.
While the news stunned many fellow literary figures, not everyone is thrilled about the news.
Beatriz Gimeno, a writer and a feminist, took to Twitter to criticise the trio.
In a tweet, Gimeno said: "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."