Jane Mayer is not afraid of the dark. She’s reported first-hand on terrorism in Beirut and traced a high-pressure pipeline of hidden money aimed at swamping the American political system. Most recently, in The New Yorker, she’s turned her gaze on Donald Trump.

“I think the best revenge is writing well,” Ms. Mayer said this week in a conversation with the Gazette. The multi-award-winning reporter and New Yorker staff writer will take part in the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival Author Series held at the Chilmark Community Center on Sunday, August 14. She will discuss, among other subjects, her most recent book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

The talk begins at 7:30 p.m., and Ms. Mayer will be interviewed by Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Tony Horwitz of West Tisbury.

Ms. Mayer is a regular visitor to the Vineyard; she spent her honeymoon here in 1992 with her husband, Washington-based New York Times editor William B. Hamilton. Ms. Mayer said they would have liked to stay for a longer visit this summer but work calls.

“Both of us are pretty involved in covering the news right now,” she said. “We just didn’t feel this is the right summer to take a big holiday.”

Ms. Mayer’s recent article Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All has received more than five million views on the New Yorker website since it was published less than a month ago, she said. “There’s a lot of interest in it.”

For that article, Ms. Mayer wrote about Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Mr. Trump’s book The Art of the Deal. In the piece Mr. Schwartz said he felt he needed to set the record straight about the book and Mr. Trump. In the article, Ms. Mayer wrote: “If he were writing The Art of the Deal today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

There has also been a lot of interest in her book Dark Money, which spent more than four and a half months on The New York Times best-seller list and has just entered its 12th printing.

“It’s a book about the nefarious influence of big money on American democracy,” she said. “That’s a subject that can be incredibly dull; stories about donations can make your eyes glaze over and it’s hard to follow the money trails without getting confused.”

Instead, with Dark Money, Ms. Mayer transforms what could be a dry-as-dust chronicle of secretive financial dealings into a new kind of American thriller.

“It’s a nonfiction horror story,” Ms. Mayer said. “It’s all true. Some of the characters are so fascinating and their histories are so appalling that you couldn’t make them up.” One such character is Richard Mellon Scaife, whose mother kept a flock of penguins. Ms. Mayer also explores the Koch brothers’ upbringing, which included a Nazi nanny.

Ms. Mayer’s previous book is The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals (2008) and she has also co-authored two earlier books including, with Jill Abramson, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas.

Becoming a journalist was not Ms. Mayer’s original plan. In fact, she confessed, “there never was a plan” as she attended Yale and then graduate school to study history.

“I started by wanting to be a cartoonist, which is what I did at Yale,” she said. “But I would spend two days on a cartoon that paid $20. The model didn’t seem that it would hold up or scale, so I started writing instead.”

She started at a small paper in Vermont, worked for a larger one and then took a job at the now-defunct Washington Star. When the Star folded, Ms. Mayer moved to the Wall Street Journal, for which she covered the Reagan White House. While filling in for a colleague, she covered the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut.

“Oct. 23, 1983, is a day I will never forget,” she said. “I was really just out of college and I’d never seen anything like it; it was the first face of terrorism I’d seen.”

It took Ms. Mayer five years to complete Dark Money.“I was trying to write it as a saga,” she said.

Her subjects were not happy with the attention and attempted to smear Ms. Mayer’s reputation as a journalist. But it didn’t work.

“I revealed exactly what they tried to do in the way of intimidating a reporter, me. I’ve named the private investigator they hired and it backfired,” she said. “There’s nothing better than getting the story out there, because the truth is the ultimate answer.”

Jane Mayer will take part in the Martha’s Vineyard Author Series on Sunday, August 14 at the Chilmark Community Center, beginning at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and more information visit mvbookfestival.com/authorseries.