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A million-euro literary prize has lured three Spanish men out of anonymity, to reveal that they are behind ultra-violent Spanish crime thrillers marketed as the work of “Spain’s Elena Ferrante”

The men had published under the pseudonym Carmen Mola, which roughly translates as “Carmen’s cool”.

When one of their books won the lucrative Planeta prize, the trio went public to pick up the cheque at a glitzy ceremony attended by the Spanish king.

Augustin Martinez, Jorge Diaz and Antonio Mercero had published novels and worked as scriptwriters under their real names before coming together to write as Mola. Credits include work on TV series “Central Hospital” and “Blind Date”.

Their lead character in the Carmen Mola novels is detective Elena Blanco, a “peculiar and solitary woman, who loves grappa, karaoke and classic cars”, said the publisher Penguin Random House.

The men, all in their 40s and 50s, denied choosing a female pseudonym to help sell the books. “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,” said Antonio Mercero.

They had previously claimed in interviews and on their own website that Mola was a professor in her late 40s, saying that they needed anonymity to “protect a settled life that has nothing to do with literature”.

Their agent’s website features a photo of a woman, looking away from the camera, on the author profile page, above a flattering comparison with Italian literary sensation Ferrante.

The book that clinched the prize does not feature Blanco. It is a historical thriller, set in 1834 during a cholera epidemic, about a serial killer who dismembered girls. A journalist, a policeman and a young woman get together to try to hunt him down.

Source: The Guardian