An Interview with Crystal Frasier

Aidan MasonMiscellaneousLeave a Comment

If you like roleplaying games, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Crystal Frasier. She’s done a lot of work on the Pathfinder series, and was instrumental in the creation of the first transgender iconic character for the game. Comics fans have also recently got a chance to learn her name, with her Wonder Woman story in Love is a Battlefield.

We got the chance to interview Crystal, where she talks about her writing, experiences in the writing industry, and her future plans.

How did you start writing?

“I’ve been writing most of my life. I grew up pretty isolated out in the country and so I spent a lot of time watching TV or reading, and when I wasn’t doing either I was spinning weird soap operas with my Ninja Turtles and stuffed animals. I started writing actual stories and drawing comics in elementary school, drew comics for my junior high student newspaper, and started writing Sailor Moon fanfic in high school.

My first paid material was actually for a new gaming magazine that was just starting up while I was still in high school. I’d been running a gaming blog at the time and just submitted a few of my articles (without a much-needed edit pass). ”

One of your most well known projects is with the Pathfinder series. How did you start out with them?

“I got started with Paizo, the people who publish the Pathfinder roleplaying game, entirely by accident. I had been working as a flash animator at the time, but was also a tabletop gamer and was interested in self-publishing some of my own writing. My wife had dragged me to a local gaming convention to meet a bunch of her online friends, and while I was there I ran into Sarah Robinson, Paizo’s art director, in the bathroom and struck up a conversation. I asked her about interning for a few weeks so I could learn InDesign and she immediately dragged me over to meet her boss—it turns out they were incredibly understaffed at the time. That internship ‘for a few weeks’ turned into a nine year career where I moved from the art department to the tech department and eventually into the editorial department where I eventually became one of the two design leads for the Pathfinder Adventure Path series.

So I guess long story short: I have no idea how that happened.”

You’re also well known for your Wonder Woman story in Love is a Battlefield. What process did you use to develop that story?

“The easiest formula for writing a well-defined character is to look at the things important to them and put them in opposition. In the case of Wonder Woman, that’s things like love, courage, compassion, and truth, so I thought about what happens when truth gets in the way of love? The truth can be brutal and hurtful, especially when you’re already angry or distracted, so I thought it would be interesting to tell a story about Diana and Steve being tied together by the golden lasso and forced to be brutally honest with each other, airing their respective pet peeves and vulnerabilities. Plus I always look for an excuse to bring in my favorite characters and Blue Snowman is a classic obscure weirdo I love, so it all sort of came together with the resolution about the villain talking about their own truth.
The final script evolved a bit to accommodate Juan Gedeon’s energetic fight scenes, but I think the end result is a lot of fun and seems to be making a lot of Blue Snowman fans happy.”

Writing for a campaign and writing for a comic are two very different ways of writing. What is your view on the differences between the two?

“Writing for roleplaying game adventures honestly isn’t that different from writing comic books. You still need to think about characters and motivation and action beats. The biggest difference is that in an RPG adventure, I only need to write the villains. In a comic book I need to write the villains AND the heroes.”

Do you have any advice for people wanting to break into the writing industry?

“I don’t know any two writers who have the exact same story about how they got into professional writing, but I do know most of those various stories come down to writing and having healthy friendships with other writers. If you need to get into the writing industry, you need to start out with solid writing chops, which means practicing your writing and reading other people’s work.

Writing also means you have a nice portfolio for things you can share if anyone asks, and might build up a small fanbase if you run a patreon or blog. Having healthy friendships with other writers means you learn more about the industry and can talk shop to improve your skills, you can read other people’s work and learn about their process, and you have other people who might be willing to read your stuff and give you honest feedback. And it means you have people who can recommend you for work if they make good and people you can recommend to editors if they come to you with work you just don’t have the time to take.”

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

“I want to plug my YA graphic novel coming out this summer from Oni Press. It’s called Cheer Up and it’s a sweet, slightly goofy story about cheerleaders who fall in love. It was a lot of fun to write and my artist, Val Wise, is an incredible talent who I think you’ll see much bigger and better things from him in coming years.”

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Aidan MasonAn Interview with Crystal Frasier