Alice's Travel Journals

"Lorraine has raised the bar for inventiveness."
—Ken Garber

Japanese teacher Nathan Lane of Education Services Australia created worksheets, lesson plans, and even some games around the three Alice in Japan journals.

Colleen Lee-Hayes, Japanese teacher, used them in an online "trip" to Japan lesson: "Inanimate Alice Journals…an interactive visit to several areas in Japan... written in a combination of Japanese and English. For this piece I ask the students to go through each of the journals and read, view, listen and even take the embedded language quizzes. They then send me an email commenting on what the most interesting thing they saw was, and where they would like to go that Alice went. It’s a great resource for this and the first time I have used it in class. It also introduces them to the episodic story that they can experience on their own time!"

Inanimate Alice Episodes

Episode 6: The Last Gas Station won a Robert Coover Award honorable mention at Electronic Literature Organization 2016!


Most of the fiction I've written has been for media other than books. Here's a selection:

Kinetic City Super Crew:
I wrote several stories for this Peabody award-winning 1990s science radio program, including "The 17-Year Drum Corps," about an invasion of periodical cicadas. Having grown up on TV, I had to wrap my brain around "audio" as a medium. The second script was a LOT easier than the first.

Adventure Games for Scholastic's Microzine:
In Escape from Antcatraz, you play an ant trapped in a nest and must find your way out, chamber by chamber.

In Safari!, you play one of six animals and must survive an adventure based on the type of animal you are—predator or prey? Big or small?

In Quest for the Pole, you're on a polar survival adventure modeled after the infamous Franklin Arctic Expedition.

The Balloonatics is a goofy global hot air balloon trip for young children.

Choose Your Move hypertext ebooks:

The Stormy Voyage of Captain Reckless (adventure)
The Lost Pirates of Waylay Bay (humor)
Adventures of a Crater Creature (science fiction)


I was a narrative designer and editorial director on this crossmedia narrative, with episodes, interactive digital journals, and social media storytelling.

Alice, the narrator, remains hidden from view, adding to the mystery.
In early 2011, I wrote Alice activities and guides for Promethean Planet, a smartboard platform for classrooms. Fun and easy.

My interactive, digital journals appeared on a social media site for tweens.
In 2012, I founded and directed "Alice on Everloop," a presence for the character and her virtual friend Brad on a startup social media site for tweens. Though the site has since folded, I adopted the voice of Alice and engaged directly with her young audience.

I also wrote four interactive journals, narratives, mini-games, and other content to share on her Loop (that's like a personal page or wall).

At Everloop, I learned a boatload about audience engagement, social media strategy, transmedia storytelling, and the 24/7 cycle that is digital publishing. (And about tween idols. ;-)

The interactive gadget (on the left) floats above the journal pages and serves as a culture and language reference tool.
In 2014, I conceived and crafted a proposal for Education Services Australia to create five Alice Travel Journals to teach Indonesian and Japanese languages and culture.

I am deeply proud of these unique, complex, multi-layered beasts, a blend of fiction (Alice's adventures abroad) and nonfiction (cultural information about the target countries).

As editorial director, I...

  • gathered hundreds of images, sounds, video clips, other assets

  • crafted five narratives for Alice's journeys, while remaining consistent with the greater story world

  • wrote and edited the copy (some of it in Indonesian and Japanese!)

  • worked with the client and domain experts (several wonderful and dedicated language teachers in Australia!)

  • hired editorial assistants

  • designed and tested the 22 language games

  • processed audio clips in Japanese and Indonesian (!)

  • managed the project and lead developer.

Episode 6 under construction.
On Episode 5: Hometown 2, I helped with the beta testing and launch (taking over Alice's social media strategy and presence) in December 2015.

The first five episodes were created on a very low budget and kept simple and short as a result. The have a linear narrative with a few brief interactives that flow with the story.

I wondered: What would Alice look like with real money behind it, a deeper and more complex story and characters, a more specialized creative team, and a more robust tech platform?

In 2014, I was hired as narrative designer for Episode 6: The Last Gas Station, with the goal of building mass appeal and bringing Alice into the commercial mainstream.

I analyzed and synthesized the entire Alice story world (episodes, journals, crossmedia strategy, educational outreach, marketing avenues) and crafted a dynamic and flexible 50-page design document, with an eye toward later building it into a proper story bible for the brand.

My aim was to help shape and map the story world as a whole and to figure out how the Episode 6 narrative would fit neatly with what came before and what might come ahead for Alice.

The role of narrative designer is a sweet spot between story-game. It's about taking all the bits—the interactives and text and sound and images and game mechanics and aesthetics and so on—and shaping them as a whole to deliver a cohesive and immersive user experience that serves a theme, a universal truth, and hits emotional beats.

That takes a good working relationship with the developer, including frequent video chats and access to the game-in-progress, and plenty of user testing.

The challenge with Alice, traditionally a linear narrative, has been to build up her storytelling strengths (add more emotional arcs and depth, create three-dimensional characters) while responding to the user's actions with a greater measure of agency (meaning, your choices have real consequences). The episode is in Unity 3D, which introduced a range of new interfaces and a free-roam environment with a first-person point of view.

The new choice became: do you "play as Alice" or rather (my idea) play as a "friend of Alice"—going along on her adventures, interacting with her, and occasionally making choices and taking actions that she might or might not like?

Alice is a strong character who has dynamic relationships (with her parents and, in episode 6, with her boyfriend Hari), and I believed that keeping her personality and values strong (and consistent) would make for a more narratively immersive episode. The relationship between player and the mysterious Alice is at the core of the franchise, and that relationship is what should change, not Alice herself, based on the choices that the player makes.

Interactive storytelling and narrative design are what I know, what I can do, and where I best shine. That's the messy, complex sandbox that I most love playing in.

My career dovetails with a very rare place and time when it was possible to explore and experiment with this brand new medium freely.

I wrote my first digital narrative and video game scripts in the 1980s for Scholastic and then moved onto CD-Roms in the 1990s.

My appetite for the form has only grown.

I am a writer-game designer, melded.

Alice's Kalimantan travel journal appears in episode 6.

Stories & Games

Born-Digital Products
Science and nature games, activities, animations, and more for ages 6-9.
A digital story told in narrated episodes, interactive journals, and social media.
Mayan Mysteries is a narrative video game (Dig-It Games) in which students join archaeological adventures, solve puzzles, and discover an ancient culture.
Children's Books
Read the sad, moving tale of a peace-loving leader who lost his land, many of his people, and his life-long fight to keep the peace.
The true science adventures of Diane France, forensic anthropologist. NSTA Selector's Choice, AAAS/SB&F Subaru finalist, starred reviews!
Adriana Ocampo found her path to science adventure through space-traveling robots and crashing asteroids! (FREEBIE science quizzes.)
The Body as Evidence (Autopsies) and Crime Scene Investigation!
Outdoor fun for 6 to 8 year olds.
Tornadoes! and Hurricanes! are my two best-selling books with 1.6 million sold!
A must-have card game set for English language (ESL/EFL) and language arts teachers and tutors. (FREEBIE ESL materials.)
My top selling game book!
Lively games and activities about grammar, vocabulary, and dictionary skills.
Great American History Games, 15 Primary Source Activities (plays, games, readings, and more) and more!
Race from Earth to Mars, an orbiting target, by fixing malfunctions and answering intriguing science questions. Endorsed by astronaut Jack Lousma.