Foreword for “Glass Houses”

I never intended to write this story. As a birthday present, I was gifted by my wife with a guided architectural tour of a section of the city—you know, like the occasional in-depth tours that celebrity tour guide, Rick Steves, gives about historically or artistically important European buildings. I went on my tour expecting only to have an offbeat experience. What surprised me was how enjoyable it was.

At the time, I was dissatisfied with my job and was considering other types of work I could do, given my skills and interest. The architectural tour made me wonder if writing travelogs was feasible. So I went to my local library, perused the books in the careers section (probably somewhere around Dewey Decimal System classification 331.761). Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t much there, but I found a promising book by a professional travel writer that detailed the process, economics, and best practices the author found necessary to run a successful travel-writing business. Reading his book seemed like a good idea. After all, who would know better what I might be getting into?

I knew the type of travel advice I’d want to read while I was on a long, boring, flight to an unfamiliar city. When my jet landed, I’d want to know what kinds of respectable, but extraordinary, activities I could find. As an experiment, I wrote a speculative travel story meant for an hypothetical airline magazine. I wanted the story to be substantial and informative, and not as vapidly optimistic as are most airline magazine articles. 

Note that due to this story’s setting, one or more of the National Public Radio shows I reference are no longer on the air.

First, read Glass Houses, then read the Afterword for my own critique of the story, and the outcome of my experiment.

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