167th Airman finds success as author of short stories

  • Published
  • By Airman Basic James DeCicco
  • 167th Airlift Wing

“I started writing in 2008,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cody Eichelberger, an Airman assigned to the 167th Airlift Wing Security Forces Squadron, and part-time author. “I read a lot of Stephen King and Clive Barker back then. I would have to say Stephen King’s ‘Children of the Corn’ was my favorite growing up, which really sparked my interest with writing at a young age.” 

Eichelberger has written a total of five novels in his time as a writer, but has only published two. He published his first book, ‘Elephant Bones,’ as an experiment to see if people would like his work. After the book was successful, he requested it be removed from the market. Shortly after, he published his second book, ‘Burnt Chapel,’ which is still available today.  

After publishing two novels, Eichelberger decided to shift his focus to writing short stories instead. After publishing several short stories, he quickly gained a substantial following. One of his short stories from this year, ‘Dark Season,’ placed number 10 on the Top 100 Short Stories List. This achievement has invigorated him to continue writing. 

“I was surprised, really,” stated Eichelberger. “It sold more copies than I had expected, and once ‘Burnt Chapel’ was released, people wanted more. Now that I’ve moved to short stories, my writing has started booming. After this year with two stories published, I plan to publish four to five a year.” 

After publishing several books, Eichelberger started to gain broader recognition. This uptick in popularity hasn’t affected his mentality on writing, however, which has remained primarily the same as when he started. 

“It’s like sitting on a cloud,” explained Eichelberger. “I’ve been requested to speak at book tours and sign autographs. It’s a surreal moment, but it’s never about the money. I find as soon as you write for money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. It then becomes work, not for enjoyment.” 

After having hit such a high point of success, Eichelberger began to feel the heightened expectations of his fanbase. He stated that there was a much more apparent feeling of pressure when he started his next book. 

“‘Dark Season’ had placed high expectations,” Eichelberger said. “So, as a horror writer, sometimes you have to raise the stakes a little higher than the prior stories in order to attract attention.” 

Eichelberger explained that publishing his first book was a learning experience. The lessons he learned from it helped him to write following books, and to overcome the new pressure he felt while writing. 

“Never give up,” Eichelberger said. “Many writers give up because they don’t receive the recognition. However, the more you write, the better you get. The more stories you publish, the more you stand out.” 

Eichelberger believes writing for the correct reasons is important to becoming a published writer, and that patience and dedication are needed, as well. He explained that writing for the wrong reasons can lead to discouragement, and the writer not being invested in their work. 

“Read every day, write every day and find a case of patience,” continued Eichelberger. “If you develop writer’s block, cry over it for five minutes, take a walk, then get back to it. Don’t ever give up. If you give up, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. If you’re doing it for the wrong reason, save yourself the time and find a new hobby.” 

Even through the more rough periods of his time as an author, Eichelberger continued to enjoy his work. He stated that he continues writing due to his love of the process and the satisfaction he feels from it.  

Eichelberger often spends time outdoors to develop ideas for his stories. Once he has an idea for a story, he starts to formulate a storyline using real people he knows. After his ideas are written out, he often writes four to five drafts before settling on the final product. 

  “When the final draft is finished, it’s a different feeling, as if you now have another child in the world,” explained Eichelberger. 

Eichelberger’s goals in writing have stayed about the same since he started in 2008. He explained that he doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon, either, as he desires to reach his objective. 

“My goal is to look back on life when I’m 80 and say, ‘Yeah, I did that. I’ve written sixty-some horror stories and people liked them,’” shared Eichelberger. “One of these days, I’m sure I’ll know when to stop, but I can assure you, it’s not anytime soon. I have hundreds of ideas. All that needs to be done is to write them into stories and publish them.”