A popular Spanish novelist made headlines today—and she is not what she seems.
Famous crime thriller author Carmen Mola recently won a literary award for $1.2 million, but when "she" went on stage to claim the award, "her" fans, as well as King Felipe VI of Spain himself, were absolutely stunned at what they saw.
As it turned out, "Carmen Mola," was actually three men.
Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero, three Spanish television screenwriters, went up on stage at the Planeta award show to claim the $1.2 million prize awarded to Carmen Mola.
In doing so, the men subsequently came clean to fans—and the King of Spain—their beloved female author did not actually exist.
Díaz said after accepting the award:
"Carmen Mola is not, like all the lies we've been telling, a university professor."
"We are three friends who one day four years ago decided to combine our talent to tell a story."
Many fans knew the author known as "Carmen Mola" had been writing under a pseudonym, but interviews suggested the author was a professor in Madrid with three children and a penchant for keeping her real identity private.
In other words, although many of Mola's readers had known she was writing under a false name, they had all believed the female writer was in fact a female writer.
The men are now the topic of criticism, as many people feel they used a female pseudonym in an attempt to gain more traction and media attention in a literary genre dominated by men.
One of these critics is the former director of Spain's Women's Institute, Beatriz Gimeno.
Gimeno accused the men of being "scammers" and using a female pseudonym "to take in readers and journalists."
The men disagree with this take, however, claiming they never intended to use the pseudonym to gain outsized interest and stating they hadn't given the pseudonym much thought to begin with.
Mercero said of the controversy:
"We didn't hide behind a woman, we hid behind a name."
"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 Twitter community is divided over the situation.
Some users agree the men chose a female name to gain clout...
...while others think the men did nothing wrong.
Martínez, Díaz and Mercero, writing under the name "Mola", are most well-known for a popular violent crime series that follows police inspector Elena Blanco.
The series has sold over 400,000 copies.
For the Planeta award, "Mola" won the literary prize for their yet to be published book The Beast, which tells of a serial killer in 17th century Madrid.
Planeta has said they have plans to publish and distribute the novel.