The Spanish literary world was rocked on Friday night by the revelation that one of the country’s most celebrated female novelists, Carmen Mola, was in fact a work of fiction. Her books are the work of three male screenwriters: Jorge Díaz, Agustín Martínez and Antonio Mercero.

Until Friday, Mola was believed to be a professor in her 40s who wrote violent crime thrillers between classes. Hanska Literary and Film Agency, which represents Mola, features a photograph of a woman facing away from the camera on her author profile page.

The ruse was revealed on Friday night during a prize-giving ceremony for the country’s most prestigious literary award, the Premio Planeta de Novela, where Mola was announced as the winner of the 2021 prize. Gasps were heard across the auditorium as the mysterious Mola’s name was called to accept the award, which comes with a €1 million ($1.16 million) cash prize.

The three men took to the stage, posing alongside runner-up best-selling author Paloma Sánchez-Garnica (pictured above, right, alongside Díaz, Martínez and Mercero.)

Martínez is a well-known author in his own right, having written an alien abduction thriller that he then adapted into a TV series, “La caza. Monteperdido,” on which he collaborated with Díaz. The two men have also worked together on “Acacias 38.”

Accepting the award, Díaz said: “Carmen Mola is not, like all the lies we’ve been telling, a professor, but three writers, three screenwriters, three friends: Agustín Martínez, Antonio Mercero and I, Jorge Díaz.”

“Four years ago we had a crazy idea to unite our meagre talents to write a story together,” he continued. “This story became a success and turned into another, another, another and finally brought us here to this night, which is a night that we dreamed of.”

Added Agustín: “It is a joy to be here. When we first got together to write a novel, we never thought that we would end up here.”

“We didn’t hide behind a woman, we hid behind a name,” Antonio Mercero told Spanish newspaper El País, according to The Guardian. “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.”

Not everyone is thrilled by the revelation. Beatriz Gimeno, a Spanish politician and LGBT activist, tweeted: “Beyond the use of a female pseudonym, these guys have been giving interviews [as Mola] for years. It is not only the name, it is the false profile with which they have taken in readers and journalists. Scammers.”