Spanish crime writer Carmen Mola reveals her most stunning plot twist: She doesn’t exist and her books are penned by three men
- Spanish crime writer Carmen Mola is in fact three middle-aged male writers
- Revelation was made during 70th Planeta Literary Award ceremony in Barcelona
- Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero write as Carmen Mola
She’s gripped Spain with her ultra-violent crime thrillers and was regarded by critics as the country’s answer to Italy’s reclusive novelist Elena Ferrante.
But now Carmen Mola has revealed her most stunning plot twist: she doesn’t exist, and her books are penned by three middle-aged men.
On Friday night the €1million Planeta prize was awarded to Mola, an author who until now had been presented as a female university professor writing under a pen name so she could remain anonymous.
But when the main prize at the ceremony was announced in the presence of King Felipe VI in Barcelona, three men stepped up to the podium – throwing the literary world into a state of confusion.
Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero published novels and worked as scriptwriters under their real names before writing as Mola. Credits include work on TV series Central Hospital and Blind Date.
Spanish writers Agustin Martinez, Jorge Diaz and Antonio Mercero pose with the prize after receiving the Planeta literary award for their novel ‘La Bestia’
Spain’s King Felipe VI (left) and Queen Letizia (right) give the Planeta literary award to the writers Agustin Martinez (second from the left), Jorge Diaz (centre) and Antonio Mercero (second from the right) for their novel ‘La Bestia’
Their lead character in the Mola novels is detective Elena Blanco, a police inspector with a fondness for karaoke, grappa and casual sex, according to publisher Penguin Random House.
The men, all in their 40s and 50s, denied choosing a female pseudonym to help sell the books. 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.’
They previously claimed in interviews that Mola was a professor in her late 40s, telling Spanish ABC newspaper three years ago they needed anonymity to ‘protect a settled life that has nothing to do with literature’.
The books have sold more than 200,000 copies, been translated into eleven languages and are being adapted for television by Endemol Shine and ViacomCBS International Studios.
Diaz, Martinez and Mercero talk to the audience after receiving the Planeta literary award
Spain’s King Felipe VI (second from the left) and Queen Letizia (second from the right) give the Planeta literary award to the writers Agustin Martinez (third from the left), Jorge Diaz (centre) and Antonio Mercero (third from the right) for their novel
But the Carmen Mola book that won the Planeta prize is historical thriller The Beast, which deals with a serial killer who dismembers girls during a cholera epidemic in Madrid in 1834.
The award is reserved for unpublished work, and the winner’s acceptance of Planeta’s publishing rights is a condition of entry. The conditions also state that all pseudonymous authors must include their details in a sealed envelope, which will only be opened in the event that they win.
The prize’s organisers said that in the case of Friday’s win, there was a ‘pseudonym behind a pseudonym’, since The Beast was submitted under the pen-name Sergio López, which was then revealed to be Mola – and subsequently unveiled as Díaz, Martínez and Mercero.
The book is due to be published by Planeta under Mola’s name next month, although Mola is still listed as a Penguin Random House author.
Spanish feminist writer Beatriz Gimeno attacked the men for creating a female persona in their publicity for Carmen Mola books.
She tweeted: ‘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.’