First Comics News: Why did you decide to write “Real Life Super Heroes”?
Nadia Fezzani: After interviewing and studying serial killers for years, I was drained. Tired of the darkness, I needed something that would cheer me up, that would turn the topic I covered to something positive. I liked the idea of working with people who try to make this place a better world. It was very inspiring and I hope it can inspire others as well.
1st: Can you tell us about a few of the Super Heroes in this book?
Nadia: There is Phoenix Jones. He is a professional fighter and a Real Life Superhero. He is perhaps one of the most famous. He has been featured nationally and patrols Seattle, Washington with his team.
Thanatos is one of the more respected people in the Super Hero community. He dresses as death and patrols the most dangerous parts of Vancouver, BC.
1st: What motivates these people to go out dressed up in a costume?
Nadia: There are many reasons why they wear a costume. For example, Life was patrolling the street without a costume at first, trying to help the homeless. However, the people he approached never remembered him until he wore his costume. Crime fighters wear a costume for protection; hiding their identity helps to avoid criminals they get arrested to hurt them or their family later on. They also want to embody a symbol of power.
1st: Did you go along on patrols with these Superheroes?
Nadia: I’ve patrolled easily 11 times in total among 8 different teams. Yes. I patrolled with superheroes in New York City, NY; Norfolk, V.A.; Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle, WA; Oakland, CA; San Francisco, CA; San Diego, CA; Salt Lake City, UT.
1st: What stood out for you about the personalities of these superheroes?
Nadia: It may not be surprising that many of them have larger-than-life personas. However much like serial killers, there has been some sort of pain or trauma in their young lives that causes them to overcompensate in an unconventional way. While serial killers will do it to harm others, Real Life Super Heroes will over-compensate to save others.
1st: Do any of the Super Heroes carry any specific equipment to help them while on patrol?
Nadia: Some just have their costumes, but many carry a range of specialized equipment. This can range from an impact-resistant mask to full law-enforcement grade body armor. Super Heroes are known sometimes to carry weapons like pepper spray for self-defense but always work to comply with local laws. All the ones I know wear a bullet-proof vest, as well.
1st: Is helping people in need such as the homeless or with charities part of what these Superheroes do?
Nadia: While many Real Life Super Heroes literally fight crime, some focus primarily on homeless outreach and charity endeavors.
1st: You wrote “Through the Eyes of Serial Killers” how did it feel sitting across from murderers interviewing them?
Nadia: The first time was the most difficult one. I was nervous the night before the interview. He was a cannibal and had requested to be alone in the room with me during the interview, without handcuffs. I had agreed, but I didn’t know what to expect since I had never faced one of these individuals. Nonetheless, I had taken precautions such as not wearing high heels, earrings that could be pulled, etc. When I finally met with Arthur Shawcross, I was surprised to see someone who did not frighten me. He looked like a normal man and didn’t seem aggressive. He was smiling and was acting nicely. Contrarily to the night before, I was in my “journalist” mode and so I concentrated on my questions and the killer’s answers. I didn’t get surprised or afraid. I was there to have answers. When I left the place, I could finally decompress and be happy about the answers I had received, which helped me understand the reasons why they did what they did.
1st: What made you decide you wanted to be in your chosen profession?
Nadia: I’ve always been curious about people’s thoughts, psychology, what isn’t told. That’s the reason why I started as an interviewer with sports personalities and “out-of-the-ordinary” people, talking about their lives and what the public didn’t know about them instead of talking about their scores.
1st: Has your job ever taken you into any dangerous situations?
Nadia: When patrolling with the Real Life Super Heroes, we faced gunmen 3 times. The first time, a man wanted to shoot at us. The second time, the superheroes separated two men who wanted to shoot each other. The third time, we were in the middle of a shooting.
1st: Besides your career how do you spend your time?
Nadia: I help teens and young adults through life coaching. I love to travel to different countries, discover cultures and mentalities. I sing. I’m learning piano. I continuously go to school to learn new things. And I spend my time with my amazing husband.
Rich: Do you have another book planned or are you currently working on one?
Nadia: I have several projects, none that I would make official yet. I am currently working on a series of articles where I interview hard rock/heavy metal stars for a magazine.
1st: Do you think anyone can be a hero?
Nadia: I think anyone with a good heart can be a hero. And people do not need to be a “super” hero and dress up at night to fight crime. When I was in San Francisco in December, one superhero gave a coat to a little girl who had none. The mother was emotional, as she couldn’t afford to buy one. That, to me, is heroic. Imagine people helping older people who can barely walk get their groceries, people getting free clothes for the little boy who is going to school and is made fun of because of what he’s wearing, people listening to someone who feels lonely and depressed, people helping the kitchen where they give food to the poor. All these people are heroes. It’s just a matter of choosing the right campaign and purpose.
1st: What would you like to say to those who enjoy reading your books?
Nadia: For many of us, helping others feel very good. It gives us a sense of purpose, feeling of happiness, and makes the world a better place. Go out there. Find a cause you care about and help people the way you would have like to be helped. It doesn’t need to be something very demanding. You can help your older neighbor who is having trouble carrying bags and offer to go grocery shopping with them once a week. You can do fun things like creating a writers’ group for teens to put their emotions on paper. You can visit the Humane Society and be there to play with animals once a week. It feels so good!
On a more personal note, I would thank those who read my work for helping me do what I love. I hope my readers may feel a sense of adventure, but I the goal is really to share with them the things I have learned and experienced.