'Attachments' Book Excerpt: 'Sleepless in Seattle' Screenwriter Pens Debut Novel (Exclusive)

Attachments Sleepless in Seattle
Courtesy of SparkPress; Everett

Jeff Arch, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the romantic comedy screenplay, is now set to pen his debut novel out May 11.

Though it's been more than 28 years since it was released, the 1993 film Sleepless in Seattle starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan continues to be a household name in the world of romantic comedies. The film, which went on to gross $17 million its opening weekend, was originated from Jeff Arch and marked his first produced screenplay after spending years as a struggling writer until deriving the idea for the rom-com.

Following the success at the box office, Sleepless in Seattle went on to receive two Oscar nominations for best original screenplay and original music. For his work on the film, Arch also received noms for the Writers Guild and BAFTA awards. His other credits include the Disney adventure film Iron Will, New Line’s romantic comedy Sealed With a Kiss and the independent comedy Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys.

Now Arch is ready to go from the big screen to the bookshelf with a debut novel called, Attachments (Sparkpress). In Attachments, out May 11, Arch tells the story of three students who return to their boarding school in Pennsylvania after their beloved school's dean Henry Griffin suffers a stroke and is put in a coma. Told in alternating points of view and time frames, best friends Stewart ("Goody") Goodman, Sandy ("Pick") Piccolo, and Laura Appleby — the girl they both love — are left to not only grapple with Henry's tragedy but must also come to terms with longtime secrets and revelations being revealed, which could ultimately impact the dean's 18-year-old son.

Below, The Hollywood Reporter shares an excerpt. 

They found the right bus to Hershey and watched Goody climb on. He made his way to a window seat and sat down. He looked out at them and waved. Laura and Pick waved back.

"You think he’ll be okay?" she asked.

Pick shrugged. "It sounds like a pretty heavy deal. Like they’re having the funeral all over again. What a thing."

It was a memorial service, Goody had told them, for his father, and it went with the unveiling of the headstone. This was a standard Jewish tradition, and the family was crystal clear on having him be there; they were counting on him to not repeat his performance from the funeral. No vanishing act this time.

Laura had tried to get down to Hershey to be with Goody during the summer, back when his dad died, but her parents wouldn’t take her and wouldn’t let her go all that way alone—so she had to wait until school started again to see him. And no one could deny, it was a different Goody who came back that fall. He was sadder, sapped—the light that was always there, you could only see occasionally now— and never for very long.

Then, when Pick showed up, things got better. Griffin knew what he was doing; what both of these guys needed, more than any- thing else, was a friend. They sparked each other, and each seemed to come much more to life when the other was around. Proof that unlikely pairings can be the best sometimes.

The bus pulled away, and Laura said she guessed she and Pick should probably go back to the school. Pick agreed but didn’t want to; he wished Laura wouldn’t want to either, but she’d already said she did. Otherwise why would she bring it up?

"You want to see something?" he asked.

"Sure," was Laura’s answer, and it spiked Pick’s hopes that she said it so quickly. He switched directions, and not long after, they were at his house—a place Pick took no one. Not even Goody had seen this house.

"What are those lights?" Laura asked. She pointed to some fixtures in the row of tall maples framing the driveway. High up, in the branches.

"Security," Pick said. "At nighttime they can whiteout the whole place if they have to." She asked why they’d have to do that, and Pick gave her about a tenth of the reason. Burglars, he told her. Once in a while they’d been hit by burglars. So, his dad had floodlights put in, among other things, to make people think twice next time.

"Wow," Laura said. She thought about Oneida, and how people would just leave their doors open there, and not even think about it. "What did they take?"

"I don’t know. Nothing of mine." Pick left out that sometimes they didn’t take anything—that people just as often brought things in, and planted them there. Microphones, for instance. Once he saw his father get so mad that he punched a bare-fisted hole through three sheets of standing drywall; that was how Carmine Piccolo felt about federal snooping motherfuckers coming into his fucking house and leaving their motherfucking shit behind.

"My father sells Buicks," Laura offered. " 'More Buicks Than Anyone from Nyack to Niagara Falls'!" she chimed, and she told Pick that if he lived anywhere within those bounds, then that phrase would have been engraved on his cortex, for all the times it was on radio and TV and in the newspaper. It was on billboards, too; once her dad even dropped leaflets from a crop duster. A restored bi-plane that crashed into a Purina factory, the very next week.

"I didn’t know a lot of people bought Buicks anymore," Pick said. "Watch out, or he’ll put you in one." Pick laughed out loud, and he hardly ever did that. It struck him funny, this image of some Dale Carnegie Sales Guy in upstate New York slapping him on the back and trying to put him in a Buick.

Laura told him not to worry—Pick’s laugh had a great sound, she said. It sounded real—and she wouldn’t say so if she didn’t think it.

Pick’s skin felt like fireworks; he couldn’t begin to tell Laura what he liked about her. For starters, he didn’t know how she would take it—and if she didn’t take it well, then all this feeling he had right now would just zap itself away. And he would hate it if that happened.

But if she did take it well . . . well, what if ?

They went the long way back, along the river. For a while they dropped sticks in the water, and made bets on whose would float faster. They watched a train cross the railroad bridge, about a quarter mile downstream; Pick told Laura everything he knew about the valley they were in—about the coal still buried in the hills around them, and how the trains used to run twenty-four hours a day. He talked about floods, and levees, and how the Susquehanna got its name, and when he was finished he said he didn’t even know he knew that stuff, or how it had gotten into his head the way it did— and he knew he was only talking about it because he was nervous about running out of things to say.

They switched into talking about Goody, mostly because they thought they ought to. Laura told Pick how they met as sophomores, and how Goody was a lot more outgoing then. She said he got her into all kinds of things: the film club, where you got credit for watching movies, if you took part in the discussions. The listening booths at the library downtown, where you could hear almost any record you wanted, for free—vinyl records, not cassettes, with all the cracks and pops that came with being authentic. Also, Goody found a photo lab that would print Laura’s pictures for next to nothing, as long as she’d come in on Saturday afternoons and answer the phones. And he turned her on to bagels and lox, which she thought were delicious— and since Oneida, apparently, didn’t see a market for that, Goody had treated Laura to her first. "Judaism on a plate," he called it.

She admitted that he got pretty intense sometimes; Goody told her he loved her before they’d known each other even a week, although she didn’t see how he could. But she wasn’t against it, she felt good around him; she liked feeling needed, and Goody gave her a whole lot of that. He needed her, and he wanted her, and all of that was very, very new to Laura.

Pick was confused: "Who wouldn’t want you?" he wondered out loud, and Laura told him he could start with her parents. Exhibit A was boarding school; Exhibit B was that she was given no choice about Exhibit A.

Pick was surprised to hear this. "I thought I was the only one," he said.

"If you were,"Laura assured him, "we’d be at a very tiny school." The rest of the way back, Pick’s mind would not stop once. He wanted to tell her everything—and not about coal trains, and the Susquehanna. He wanted to say things he knew he couldn’t say, going all the way back to September, to the day he found her cleaning those grease traps, singing Darlene Love.

But for the first time in Pick’s short life, right and wrong were things he suddenly cared about. And he was going to have to do the right thing here—no matter how much it hurt him, no matter how much he wanted it or how right it might be in the end. Because you don’t make a move on your best friend’s girl. You just don’t. Even Carmine Piccolo’s boy knew that one.

Excerpted with permission from ATTACHMENTS by Jeff Arch. © 2021 Jeff Arch Baytown Entertainment Inc. Published by SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint, a division of SparkPoint Studio, LLC