Echoes of Old Savannah


Published:

Bestselling author C.J. Daugherty’s new book draws inspiration from her time prowling the streets of Savannah.

Long before she released the echo killing, C.J. Daugherty had made a name for herself as a bestselling author in the highly competitive young adult market. Her “Night School” series held its own against the Twilights and the Hunger Games, launching her star in the publishing realm.

The Echo Killing is decidedly not a young adult novel. Unrelentingly dark and gripping, it takes readers inside the life of Savannah crime reporter Harper McClain, and a chilling series of murders that begin to take on more and more of a personal tone for McClain as she investigates. There is an authenticity to both McClain and the disturbing portrait of Savannah after dark that Daugherty paints through this novel, one borne from her years spent as a crime report for the Savannah Morning News.

With the mannerisms of her native Houston lightly gilded with a British accent thanks to nearly 20 years spent living overseas, Daugherty shared with us some of her experiences in Savannah and how they shaped her new novel.

The Echo Killing, from the dust jacket

Harper McClain has been obsessed with crime ever since her mother was killed when Harper was twelve years old. The killer was never found, and that unsolved murder haunts her as she spends her nights wandering the dark city streets of Savannah, Georgia, searching for criminals.

Now a crime reporter for the struggling local newspaper, Harper’s life remains tangled up in crime. Most of her friends are cops. She works nights, so she has no social life. Her work consumes her. One day, she stumbles upon the scene of a homicide that looks hauntingly familiar: a young girl with bloody hands being led away by a detective, a nude, female victim stabbed multiple times, and no evidence pointing towards a suspect.

Harper has seen all of this before in her own life. The similarities between the murder of Marie Whitney and her own mother’s death lead her to believe they’re both victims of the same killer.

At last, she has the chance to find the murderer who’s eluded the police for fifteen years. She can make sure another little girl isn’t haunted forever by a senseless act of violence.

Finally, she will have justice. But her investigation will put Harper herself in the killer’s crosshairs. She will have to risk everything she cares about – including her own life – to find the truth.

South Magazine Q & A

South magazine: First off, how did a crime reporter from Savannah wind up living in the U.K.?
C.J. Daugherty: I actually was working for a British company when I worked in New Orleans in the late ’90s. They offered me a job in London for two years. I thought, ‘Two years, that’s not so bad. I’ll take that. That will be kind of exciting.’ And that was nearly 20 years ago.

South: When the time came to branch off into crime novels, what made you choose Savannah?
Daugherty: I think because I was so young when I was working as a crime reporter there, it made a bigger impact on me than a lot of my journalism did. That stayed with me because I was 21 and covering some pretty serious crimes. 

South: What sort of crime were you seeing at the time?
Daugherty: There was a big crime outbreak at the time related to crack cocaine. I kind of arrived in a sleepy town and within six weeks it was a murder almost every other week and shootings every night. It was nuts. I went from working to my student newspaper to basically working homicide.

South: How much digging into old notes did you have to do as you were writing?
Daugherty: It was really funny because for a long time I hadn’t thought about those years at all. In fact, when I decided to write about it, I thought I’d look at old pictures and I couldn’t find the photo album because I’d moved so many times. I had to dig through my attic and when I finally found it, it all came back in this rush, having not thought about it in so long. 

South: And how much did you wind up drawing real-life inspiration for your story?
Daugherty: Remembering the crimes of the book are completely invented, what I tried to draw from was remembering the adrenaline of that. Harper’s hours are my hours, so I’d work from 4 p.m. until almost 1 a.m. five or six nights a week depending on how bad things were and I had a photographer I worked with quite closely who was addicted to his scanner. Those things that are in my book are universal. I think every crime reporter starts this way. The rest, the crimes and how her life unravels, that’s very different. 

South: And of course, Harper works at a fictionalized version of your old paper that is still headquartered downtown. (The actual Savannah Morning News moved more than a decade ago).
Daugherty: I feel like I came in at the end of the old newspaper days. When I started, every desk still had a typewriter on it that nobody used. It was just in the way – I used to put my feet up on it. There were still tubes on the walls where they used to send copy to the copy desk or the printer through these pneumatic tubes. They didn’t work, but you could see the bones of the old newspaper world still there. 
The romance of that, I wanted to work that into the book because I remember being very influenced by that as a young woman. It’s really a shame to me that that’s all moved out to the suburbs. I didn’t want to write about a writer who’s out in the suburbs. I wanted to write about that writer on Bay Street, right there with the river in front of her.

The Echo Killing is available wherever books are sold.

Subscribe now for instant access to the digital edition, or pick up the 2018 Power Issue from one of our distribution partners. 

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Events Calendar

  • Tybee Island Sprint Triathlon/5K

    May 31, 2020
    8:00 AM @ Tybee Island Visitor Center

    The Trybee Island Sprint Triathlon is a 750 yard ocean swim, 20k bike ride, and 5K run that takes place starting on beautiful Tybee Island, GA....

  • Live Music at Congress Street Up Speakeasy Every Thursday

    May 14, 2020
    9:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Congress Street Up Speakeasy

    Every Thursday evening, we have live music in the speakeasy featuring a rotating cast of local legends. Music starts at 9!

  • TEDxSavannah: Standard Deviation

    Jun 05, 2020
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Yamacraw Center for the Performing Arts

    Guided by a mission to share ideas worth spreading, TEDxSavannah welcomes the public to enjoy live speaker presentations from area residents and...

  • Forsyth Farmer's Market

    Jun 29, 2019
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ South end of Forsyth Park

    The Forsyth Farmers’ Market vendors offer a variety of local goods including seasonal produce, eggs, honey, pastured meat, bread, cheese,...

  • Beach Bum Triathlon /Duathlon

    Jun 13, 2020
    7:00 AM @ Coligny Beach Park

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  • Mindful Triathlon

    Jun 14, 2020
    8:00 AM @ Coligny Beach Park

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    Jun 20, 2020
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    This year’s race will be another 5 miles or 5 kilometers of mud and obstacles – each year you ask for bigger and better...

  • 4th of July Dinner & Fireworks Cruise

    Jul 04, 2020
    7:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah Riverboat Cruises

    Celebrate our Nation’s Independence with Savannah Riverboat Cruises!  Join us on board for a - one of a kind - 3 hour celebration! Enjoy a...

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    Jul 04, 2020
    8:00 PM - 10:30 PM @ Savannah Riverboat Cruises

    Join in on the fun as we celebrate the 4th of July! During the 1 1/2 hour cruise, dance to the music of our Riverboat DJ spinning your favorite...

  • Walk with the Turtles: Ossabaw Island

    Jul 20, 2020
    8:00 AM - 2:00 AM @ Delegal Creek Marina Skidaway Island

    Depart 8:00 am from Delegal Creek Marina on Skidaway Island, just outside of Savannah. After a 30-minute boat ride across Ossabaw Sound, arrive on...

  • Charleston Beer Festival

    Sep 26, 2020
    1:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Riverfront Park North Charleston

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  • Charleston Beer Festival

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    1:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Riverfront Park

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  • Nine Line Run for Wounded 5K/10K

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Scenes of the South

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 5

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 4

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 2

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 3

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 1

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

February Brews for a Cause

February's Brews for a Cause was held at the Drayton Hotel on Thursday, February 27th. South Magazine and Southern Eagle teamed up to raise money through a large silent auction for the Savannah Ambucs organization. Craft Beer samplings from Wild Leap Brewing, alongside appetizers from the Drayton Hotel were offered to guests.

2020 Southern Coast Heart Ball

The American Heart Association held its annual Southern Coast Heart Ball on Saturday, February 8th at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa. Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception with a silent auction, dinner and program, and dancing to end the evening. All proceeds went to the Open Your Heart campaign.

4th Annual Hearts for Healing Gala

Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center held its Fourth Annual Hearts for Healing Gala on Friday, February 7th at the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. Guests enjoyed gourmet dining, dancing, and a silent auction. All proceeds from the auction benefitted the Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center's program for individuals with disabilities.

IDC Benefits the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire

The LeClerc Family owners of IDC (International Diamond Center) in Savannah 349 Mall Blvd held a benefit to support the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire on Thursday, February 6th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Guests enjoyed light food and drinks, while bidding on several silent auction items, including autographed footballs and helmets donated by Anthony Lanier II.

Royce Learning Center Annual Low Country Boil & Oyster Roast

The Royce Learning Center held their annual low country boil and oyster roast on Saturday, February 1st. Guests enjoyed mingling over the seafood selection. Royce Learning Center meets the needs of children and adults with learning differences and literacy needs through its unique programs.