A Million Miles

Published on December 17th, 2014


Amy Fiddler | Credit: Emily Shur

Amy Fiddler | Credit: Emily Shur

At the age of 16, Amy Fleisher Madden turned a fledgling folded 8½ by 11 fanzine in 1996 into one of the most preeminent indie punk rock labels of the time, Fiddler Records. Striking gold by signing then unknown South Florida acts New Found Glory and Dashboard Confessional turned her into an overnight sensation in the punk rock scene. But alas youth will do as youth does and Fleisher’s empire ended a decade later, when exhausted and burnt by the experience, she returned to school to pursue her degree in advertising.

Proving that the same spirit that led her to pursue her heart’s desire in her youth, Fleisher has reinvented herself as a writer and has released her debut novel, A Million Miles, somewhat autobiographical as we found out, is “for girls aged 15-20 to read what I wrote and think “I could do that” and I want them to be able to identify with a strong female lead that is just as confused and flawed as every other male protagonist out there.”

Whatís your fondest memory of the South Florida music scene?

Fleisher: My fondest memories of the South Florida music scene are of Cheers and its owner, Gaye. I will never forget what it was like to work at such an amazing venue. I was living in Los Angeles when Gaye passed away, and I never really got to say goodbye. In my head, she’s still there; standing outside of her club on 17th Avenue on a rainy night, smoking and watching the traffic go by.

South Florida has always had a presence in the punk rock scene, but you helped define an era and sound that emerged from here, what was running a successful record label in your teens like?

To put it eloquently, it was nuts. I made so many decisions with my heart and not my head—and maybe that’s why things initially worked. I didn’t have the normal amount of adult fear in me—I was all youthful hope and wonder. Also, in the same respect, I suppose I had nothing to lose. I wasn’t worried about rent or providing for a family, I was just doing what I loved to do. It was pure.

Any regrets about the label? Anything youíd do differently or would consider doing again?

Hmm, regrets. I regret trusting so many people. Maybe that’s part of the youthful hope thing I mentioned earlier. But, failure is a better teacher than success, so I’m grateful for everything I learned along the way. Scars are cool, right? And I am already sort of back in the game again with my new label, Animal Manufacturing Co.

AFM-AMillionMiles_Cover001000Writing is not new for you, before we discuss A Million Miles, tell us about your zine and how it came to be and what it did for you at the time.

Writing isn’t new for me, no, but writing something of this magnitude certainly is. When I was younger (you know, 20 years ago) I had a small fanzine called Fiddler Jones. I wrote articles about bands that I liked and reviewed records that labels sent to me. It was all very fun. It was my excuse to talk to bands and go to shows so often. Also, about ten years ago I started a magazine called Death + Taxes, but I only stayed with the company for a year.

You’ve said the book is like “Almost Famous but with a girl and in 1999.” Being a time period you lived and you are a girl, how much is based on experience?

The main character, Maddy, is essentially me when I was 19, but the story is totally fiction. I took bits and pieces of every band I’ve ever known and squished them all together to create a mega-band for Maddy to go on tour with. All of the feelings that Maddy has though, those are real.

There’s been a surge in punk rock writers aiming at the YA (Young Adult) market, books can be read by anyone but who was your target audience while writing it?

I had no idea I was apart of a surge, I will have to get out and find some punk rock writer comrades! So, I wouldn’t call it targeting per se, because that’s what I do at my day job… But, I’d love for girls aged 15-20 to read what I wrote and think “I could do that” and I want them to be able to identify with a strong female lead that is just as confused and flawed as every other male protagonist out there. There weren’t a lot of women in music that were accessible to me when I was younger, and I’d love for that to change for future generations.

How was the writing and revision process like for you?

It was nuts. Wait, I already said that. See, it was like that. When you revise you realize you say the same thing over and over and over. It was the most introspective I’ve ever been—it’s a wonder that manuscript ever made it out the door. If you ever want to get to know yourself, to find out what you’re really made of, try writing.

When will you be touring, I mean, getting on the book circuit to promote it?

Soon! January seems like the perfect time to run around the country with some friends and some acoustic guitars. You can check my website for “tour/book” date at amillionmilesbook.com.

~Abel Folgar