7 minute read



The author I choose each month is an author that I believe was born to shine. Jeff Arch received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay, Sleepless in Seattle, and his debut novel, Attachments, quickly became a bestseller. I must tell you that from the moment I met Jeff, I felt a special connection. That’s because his soul is very open and kind. We don't often meet people like Jeff. Every time you’re with him, you walk away feeling like a better person, a smarter person, and a smile on your face.

The entire trajectory of Jeff’s life pivoted when, in 1976, he made a phone call to Conrad Hall, a well known and successful American Cinematographer. Many forget that we used to have to dial 411 or use the phonebook to look up phone numbers, so when he found Conrad‘s phone number in the phonebook, he thought of it as an invitation to call. Conrad answered the phone and two months later Jeff was on a flight out to LA to meet him. During the visit Conrad told him, "You're right on track as a cinematographer. But the way the unions work, it'll be fifteen years before you can do what you're already doing, and I know you well enough to know you won't have the patience for that. If you can write, I'd say that's what to do, you'll be much happier and in much more control of your work product." Jeff knew wisdom when he heard it, and his writing career began that day; it was the beginning of the spec script era, and Jeff fell right into it. Four unsold screenplays later, he hit on the idea for a quirky romantic comedy where the characters don't even meet until the very last scene. “I wanted to share a Valentine with the whole world," he said.

The movie Sleepless in Seattle was released in 1993, and so far, it's been his greatest film achievement. He believes that all good movies have to have outstanding endings and that’s where he started his script. The main idea for the characters was “two people who were unaware of each other, but perfect for each other.” I love this movie, especially the character, Annie!

Sleepless was later developed as a stage musical that almost didn't make it to Broadway. Jeff laughs a little as he remembers how writing musicals was a long process. "Sharing the real estate on the page with a composer and lyricist was a real trial," Jeff says. "But it was great training, in finding the things in each scene that were really essential." Still, he says, he's more of the lone wolf type of writer and would prefer to develop his own material, until it’s time to bring other creative partners in. "For a screenwriter, the first draft is the only thing you really own," he says, "and I wanted to own all of it, before all the other necessary voices joined in."

I feel it’s very serendipitous that I met Jeff when I interviewed him for his debut novel The Attachments. Attachments was published by SparkPress, May 11, 2021. It was one of my favorites from last year. I highly recommend it. Here is my 5 ⭐ review:

Attachments is unlike any book I have ever read. I think it’s because of its rhythm. As you learned watching Sleepless in Seattle, his writing is very considerate, sympathetic, and full of compassion and love. It’s truly beautiful how forgiveness weaves through the story. Jeff makes you believe in the essence of true love. You will definitely be kept on your toes. You will be grabbing for tissues. Don’t miss this book, it is a winner! I hope this review and article about him make you want to know more about Jeff and grab his book at your local bookstore.

Someone wrote the following regarding Jeff: "In an industry full of big egos Jeff Arch is a rare find, a big talent who has never lost his humanity. Whether he is penning genre changing screenplays, (Sleepless in Seattle), or speaking to novice screenwriters about the art, craft and business of screenwriting at a Hollywood by the Bay event, Jeff's ability to connect to Everyman always shines through."

I’d like to add that Jeff has not changed, he has been able to successfully put his ego to the side at all times. Jeff definitely shines bright.

I use the Proust Interview model to learn more about authors. The Proust model is a way of learning more about a person beyond the typical interview questions, and what we learn is always fascinating or something you would never even think to ask. This is how we learn more about somebody’s character.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

His first thought took him to a place that had us laughing out loud - you’ll have to check out WELL READ Magazine’s, Between The Pages, to find out why. He then adds that being happy is where you are. Where you're going. All those little gifts you give yourself along the way without realizing it. Happiness is a baseline for Joy, even in the darkest times.

Which living person do you most admire?

His first answer was the musician, Keith Richards; Jeff read his autobiography, and loved it that for Keith, the entire focus was on being a musician and not stardom. But then he thought about it and picked Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney, because of their dedication to the audience, and their respect for their money and time - and their insistence that every person in that arena goes home fully entertained, to the point of exhaustion.

"That's what it's about," Jeff says. "When I got that piece - that it's not about me, it's about the audience - that's when everything turned for me. The night I got the idea for Sleepless, the question changed from How do I get all the things I want and be rich and famous like the culture teaches us that we're supposed to want, to How do I get two people to walk out of a movie theater in Finland holding hands? That single question changed history for me. And thirty years later, people are still holding hands. That means the world to me."

What is a quality you find most endearing?

Jeff’s quick answer was “kindness.” He loves people with a zest for life, love for the family, and someone he can instantly sense a feeling of brotherhood.

What is your most treasured possession?

A journal he began in 1990 and maintained religiously for ten years. It’s where he wrote the beginnings of Sleepless and he continued to track his growing career, his growing family, and his emotional and spiritual challenges and progress. “Everyone close to me grew up in this book. It was quite an experience,” says Jeff.

Who are the heroes in your real life?

People who care for someone other than themselves.

Who are your heroes in fiction?

Jeff’s biggest hero in fiction as a character is Yossarian from Catch-22. The author that influenced him the most as a writer is John Steinbeck. "East of Eden did it for me," he says. "The way Steinbeck wrote that book is still a huge influence."

What is your lowest depth of misery?

Having no purpose.

What do you value most in your friends?

Their friendship.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I care about people.

What a wonderful place to end Jeff’s interview.

I thank Jeff for sharing all of this time with me and I'd like to add, “Thank you for sending us all a Valentine from the top of the Empire State building - and thank you for making us believe magic is real.”

It’s funny, where one pivot in a life can take you.

Annie McDonnell Author of Annie’s Song: Dandelions, Dreams & Dogs, Book Reviewer, Author Interviewer, Teacher, Speaker, Writer, Author Consultant, Co-Admin. At World of the Write Review Book Club, Blogger, Author online event planner.