Spotlight & Giveaway: THE LOST LETTERS FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD by Michael Callahan

Posted May 27th, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 19 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Michael Callahan to HJ!

Hi Michael and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, THE LOST LETTERS FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD!

Hi! I’ve written what I hope will be the book that you cannot wait to drop into your beach bag this summer. Happy reading!

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

In 1959, Mercy Welles, a Hollywood ingenue on the cusp of stardom vanishes overnight, never to be heard from again. Sixty years later, Kit O’Neill, a Manhattan junior news producer is cleaning out the attic of the recently deceased grandmother who raised her and discovers, to her shock, that the woman was in fact this missing actress. As Kit embarks on a journey to unravel the mystery of her grandmother’s missing life, flashbacks and a trove of letters from that summer reveal a tale of secrets, love, dashed dreams, and even … murder.

Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:

For some reason my very favorite line in the book is when Mercy and Ren are in his truck, exploring the island, and they have begun to settle into their rhythm together, and she warns him if he eats too many doughnuts he is going to look like Jackie Gleason. And he asks, “Do you know Jackie Gleason?” And she tosses her head casually and says, “We say hello.” I just find it so breezy and fun, and such an insight into Mercy straddling her two worlds.

Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • I was writing my second novel on Martha’s Vineyard when, going to bed one night, I was staring up at the ceiling and thought, “I should write a book set HERE.” And the plotline suddenly dawned on me, that Martha’s Vineyard would be a great place to come and hide. But why? Who? As it emerged, I knew I had to get up and write it all down or else I would forget. So I got up at 2 AM and started the outline!
  • I had fun with some the character names. I always thought my friend Patrick Sewards had a very regal, seafaring-sounding name, so I used it for the Sewards family. And my dear friend Brent Baker here in Los Angeles, who is one of the nicest people I know, allowed me to co-opt his name for a villain!
  • When I had Kit come to the island, I had her eat at all of my favorite places: The Newes of America, Lucky Hank’s, the Espresso Love Coffee Shop, and the Port Hunter. She was clearly hungry!
  • The working title of the book was “The Letters from Martha’s Vineyard.” Then my editor suggested we add the word “Lost” to add an air of mystery, since the book is, at its heart, a romantic mystery. I think it was a great call!


What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?

Mercy and Ren have a decidedly uncute meet cute in a pub on Martha’s Vineyard. But behind their insults and flashing eyes lies an undeniable attraction. She’s intrigued by his ruggedness, blunt demeanor, and slight air of mystery; he’s attracted to her guile, wit, and fearlessness.


Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?

There’s one particularly saucy scene (you’ll know it when you hit it) that was tough to write, but I think really cements the moment when Mercy and Ren topple over into a true love affair. And I have yet to read the end of the book (and I have read it A LOT!) and not get choked up. I can only hope other people do, too.


Readers should read this book….

… if they want a diverting, escapist, romantic, mysterious, midcentury beach read full of intrigue, secrets, glamour, and love.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?

I have just started a new novel, set in 1957, about the lives and secrets of the people who stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Stay tuned!

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Finished copy of THE LOST LETTERS FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD, US mailing only.


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What is it about the mysterious and glamorous feel of Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod that always keeps readers so intrigued?

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She sits, shivering. The water had been black and surprisingly cold. Tap cold. She hadn’t expected the shock of it. Icy trickles from the sopping hair tangled around her neck seep down her back.

She spasms involuntarily, tries to will the bitter chill away.

How had she not seen?

She had been stupid. So incredibly stupid.

No time for all of that now. She inches closer to the wall, scurrying deeper into the shadows. The moon is full, luminous, enormous. Tonight it is her enemy, washing the meadow in soft lavender.

She rubs her arms vigorously, trying to get warm, thankful it is not November or, God forbid, February, when the combination of the plunge into the water and the New England frost might have already killed her. Still, it is too cool to try and wait out the night. Her teeth are chattering. She’ll have to move at some point, figure out where to go and, more important, how to get there without getting caught. Because she knows he’s still out there. Somewhere. Waiting to finish what he started.

What he’d planned all along.

A noise. Rustling. She whips her head side to side, paranoia and fear filling her quickly, like water into a jug.

No, she thinks. I can’t sit here, wait for him to find me. I’m not giving up like that. Not without a fight. I’ve come too far, found strength I didn’t even know I had. I’m smart. I’ve figured out other things. I can figure this out, too.

It is not lost on her that figuring out things is what has led her to this moment, trembling in the crisp night air, trying to survive.

She inhales, taking in a deep, steadying breath, and launches onto her feet. She places her hands on the wall behind her to steady her legs, still tired and weak from the swim through the dark water. She is not familiar with Chappaquiddick, knows it only from the small arrowed wooden signs planted around Martha’s Vineyard that vaguely point in its general direction. There is a ferry that travels here, five minutes over, five minutes back, every day, though she has no idea where the terminus is, or even where on this small patch of sandy, scratchy island she is. She only remembers hitting the water, the electric force of it enveloping her body, the survival instinct kicking in and her legs kicking with it, until she was once again above the surface, swimming, tentatively, clumsily at first, then smoother, calmer, talking to herself, remembering, commanding her limbs to move, right arm forward, slicing into the water, then left, turning her head to breathe, the familiarity of the strokes slowly returning to her muscle memory.

Impulsively she bolts from the safety of the shadows and dashes through the meadow beyond, her clothes wet and heavy. It’s like running underwater. What time is it? She almost laughs at the thought. What possible difference could what time it is make in this moment? Is this how it is before you die—your mind crumbles into randomness to blunt the force of what’s coming?

She hears him.

He is behind her now, running, and she dares to look back. She can make out the tall grass whistling against his legs as he sprints, trying to catch up to her.

He’s gaining.

She reaches a worn white wooden fence and lunges across it, awkwardly tumbling onto a gravel road on the other side. Hands braced on the ground, she scrambles back up, but as she lifts her head, it’s already too late. He’s standing in front of her, chest heaving, eyes wild, the moonlight behind him giving a sinister glint to the gun he holds in his right hand.

“All you had to do,” he says, the anger raging in his low voice, “was leave it alone. But you didn’t—”

No, she didn’t.

She eyes him evenly. “I couldn’t.”

Her response seems to catch him by surprise. And for a moment it is just the two of them, standing alone on a godforsaken road on a tiny, deserted stretch of tiny, deserted Chappaquiddick, staring into each other’s eyes in the dim light. She summons the courage to speak again. “I had to know.”

He shakes his head, lifts the gun, and points it at her. “I hope it was worth it.”

Then he pulls the trigger.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

“Callahan skillfully blends notes of mystery and romance in this layered story of family secrets. Readers will have a hard time putting it down.”—Publishers Weekly

“A breezy, atmospheric novel dripping with secrets … smooth and suspenseful—and hard to stop reading once you’ve begun.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Compelling and evocative, THE LOST LETTERS FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD is a page turner of the highest order. Michael Callahan’s novel does what few books do; it glued me to my seat. It is a great mystery with great insight into the secrets everybody keeps.”
—Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Resurrection Walk

“I was completely captivated by Michael Callahan’s THE LOST LETTERS FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD. It’s a history mystery you won’t be able to put down, with strong female characters and plenty of secrets. Plus, it takes you behind the scenes in vintage Hollywood and Martha’s Vineyard. A perfect beach read!”
—Lisa Scottoline, #1 bestselling author of Loyalty and The Truth About the Devlins

“Michael Callahan’s THE LOST LETTERS FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD grabs from the first line and doesn’t let go until the last. This delicious mystery will be a particular treat for fans (guilty!) of vintage Hollywood and Nancy Drew.”
—Louis Bayard, author of The Pale Blue Eye and The Wildes
Book Links:  Amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | Google |

Meet the Author:

Michael Callahan is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author of two previous novels, Searching for Grace Kelly and The Night She Won Miss America. A contributing cultural critic to W Magazine and the New York Times, he lives in Los Angeles.
WebsiteTwitter | GoodReads |

19 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: THE LOST LETTERS FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD by Michael Callahan”

  1. Leeza Stetson

    I’ve never been to Cape Cod, but the stories I’ve heard about it make it seem wild and beautiful. It’s a place of celebrities and politicians.

  2. psu1493

    I think people love the idea of being surrounded by celebrities that are trying to live a normal life away from the stress of their everyday world.

  3. erahime

    Its reputation precedes it and its history is full of captivating people/events. It’s a great background for a New England coastal town vibe in novels.

  4. Diana Hardt

    I have never been there but I think its reputation of celebrities going there.

  5. Amy Donahue

    It’s fun to read about rich people in beautiful places living a lifestyle most of us will never experience.

  6. Glenda M

    It’s the idea of a place for the wealthy, the celebrities and politicians to go.

  7. SusieQ

    I’m from the west coast, and have only been to Boston, so not really sure.

  8. Dianne Casey

    I really enjoy reading about famous costal towns. I’ve been to lot of costal towns on Lake Michigan, but not on the ocean.

  9. rkcjmomma

    The stories and the history there especially all the famous people of the past till today that visited there

  10. Patrica Barraclough

    We have been to Cape Cod several times and to Nantucket, but not Martha’s Vineyard. The area has an old feel to it. Old settlement, old money, old coastal culture, and a private society – visitors welcomed but not necessarily let in.