On this 25th day of April - 8 months 'til Christmas... I am most thrilled to share with you all today - my interview with writer Landria Onkka whose first book 'The Rooftop Christmas Tree' - will become a TV Movie this upcoming Christmas Season! (Yes, you read that right - Landria's first book ever is becoming a TV movie!)
Landria Onkka has been in touch with me on the making of the movie, and I thought it would be fun to share an interview with all of you, which gives some fascinating insight into the movie's story, behind-the-scenes details, and more...!!!
I'm also certain most of you will recognize the leading actors in "The Rooftop Christmas Tree" - Michelle Morgan (Lou Fleming-Morris, Heartland), Stephen Huszar (The minister Father Scott Aubrey, "A Bone to Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery"), and Tim Reid (WKRP in Cincinnati, Sister, Sister), and more...!!!
Hope you all enjoy our interview *chat* below...
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: First of all, congratulations on your book The Rooftop Christmas Tree! Please share with us your inspiration for writing this story?
Landria Onkka: Thank you! It’s pretty exciting to see my first published book go direct to television. I’m especially excited because, as you know, “The Rooftop Christmas Tree” is based on a true story. I heard about it a few years ago from friends that were involved in the case. Basically, a small town resident (Mr. Landis, not his real name) keeps placing a Christmas tree on his roof. Because it violated city codes, he would get cited. Refusing to take it down, he’d end up standing before the local Judge (a friend of mine), year after year. I took it into fiction by adding the romance between Sarah and John, but the circumstances around Mr. Landis are real, as is the ending. Whenever I shared the story with friends, they would cry. I realized that it represented hope and faith and reinforces what we all know - that miracles are possible. The fact that the scenario took place at Christmas made it even more magical. It was a story that had to be shared and I hope it inspires others for years to come!
|on the set of "The Rooftop Christmas Tree|
image via: Millstonenews.com / Almonte doubles as ‘Rosedale’ (Ian MacLean)
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: Before you recently became a published writer, you were working in the ever-evolving world of business and finance. What inspired you to leave that behind, and start writing?
Landria Onkka: Wow! Talk about a major shift! After 20 years as an investment banker, making a change wasn’t easy. But I wasn’t having fun anymore. I was always known for being a good writer and loved it, but never thought of it as a career. Going from Wall Street to writing books wasn’t even a consideration. Then my parents and my doggy died suddenly and within months of each another. I realized that life is short and it was time to go after my dreams!
I had been sitting on the ‘Rooftop’ story for over a year and knew that it had to be shared. I hammered out the book and self-published within four months. It was a blessing that I had the pressure of getting it out before Christmas! Only a few months later, it was a best seller, got several awards, optioned, and green lit (went into production). My agent said that was unheard of!
I have to admit that I did have an advantage. My finance career had a focus on entertainment, so I knew about contracts, how writers got paid and how much. I had worked with some pretty big producers, knew what made a marketable storyline, what networks wanted and how the system worked. However, coming onto the scene as the writer was a different role altogether. I had to learn all of the important steps required before getting a story in front of publishers, agents and producers. I took courses in Internet Marketing and had to learn how to publish, promote, and market myself. My hard work paid off. It still hasn’t fully sunk in!
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: I am so thrilled to hear your book The Rooftop Christmas Tree will become a Made-for-TV movie on the UP network! That is truly wonderful! Please share with us, how it happened!
Landria Onkka:As an investment banker, I had worked on many television projects in addition to big screen movies. I knew what they desired from a commercial standpoint and knew that I needed to present an appealing story to the appropriate audience. Before publishing, I watched every UP, Hallmark, and Lifetime Christmas movie possible! I knew that the public craved family entertainment, uplifting stories, and love happy endings at Christmas. So, I made it my goal to deliver just that.
My agent presented to award winning producers with a track record of uplifting movies and I was immediately picked up by a production company and considered by two major networks. I am so pleased that UP Worldwide Entertainment and award winning Director, David Winning, are bringing my story to the public.
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: What’s the best advice you were ever given, as a writer or business woman?
Landria Onkka: Something that I have always desired was a mentor. I am sad to say that no one ever filled that role for me. Having been a woman in a male dominated industry my whole career, with extensive entertainment, and now artistic experience, I have my own advice to share. Never doubt and never quit. No matter what your circumstances, all things are possible. When you send that message and that belief out to the Universe, there are no limits to what you can receive.
It’s nice to have dreams, but entrepreneurs and the truly successful are action people. When they get kicked, they get back up and use those experiences to become stronger, better, and thankful. Every challenge is an advantage, if we so choose to see it that way and use it. I was usually the only woman in a room full of testosterone and I felt privileged because I learned so much. There is good in everyone and if more people saw the lessons in their struggles, they would have everything in life they ever dreamed of!
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: Since this will be your first Christmas movie, I must ask, what are some of your all-time favorite Christmas movies?
Landria Onkka: “Miracle on 34th Street” is definitely my number one. Not the remake, but the original. It is timeless. Call me corny, but I still love the animated “Rudolph” special. I’m always looking for new, inspiring ‘favorites,’ but the classics still rank tops with me. Maybe “The Rooftop Christmas Tree” will earn a ‘favorite’ spot for viewers!
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: What’s next? Do you have any future books or potential movie projects you can share with us?
Landria Onkka: As of this interview, the sequel to “Rooftop” is being printed. It is called “A Bell for Christmas.” Anyone who read “Rooftop” may recall a homeless, old lady and her Terrier roaming the streets. No one knows much about her, but there is a rumor that she comes from wealth. I based that character, Bell, on someone that used to come into my veterinarian’s office. She supposedly came from wealth, but she dressed like a bag lady and would steal the treats on the reception counter, then walk out! I’d see her outside feeding her little dog. It got the wheels turning!
Bell is a major character in the new book and, of course, attorneys Sarah and John are on the case! We learn a lot about Judge Joe (Judge Sam Conner in the movie) and his mysterious past. It’s a combination of mystery and romance. Of course, there is a bit of magic and a miracle or two! The same production company as “Rooftop” will be reviewing the story shortly and you’ll be one of the first to know if they plan on filming it, or if a new producer picks it up. And, because there is a focus on animal rescues (attorney Sarah’s and my priority), I am donating a percentage of every book sale to an animal rescue and will announce that progress on my website.
As for more stories . . . I have quite a few coming out this year. “Wooden Mistletoe,” another Christmas romance, will be released next and we’ll be announcing who will produce that television movie, also.
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: What do you hope viewers will take away, from watching “The Rooftop Christmas Tree” this Christmas Season on UP?
Landria Onkka: That “all things are possible.” Never waver from your faith, and keep an open heart. Things are often not what they appear to be. Be kind to one another even when you don’t understand another person’s struggles. It’s what we came here for! Make Christmas joy a daily practice.
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: Where can my readers find out more about you or your work?
Landria Onkka: I recently launched my website http://landriaonkka.com where readers can visit and sign up for the latest news and announcements. Current or aspiring writers can sign up for a free writing course on the site, and I also offer private mentoring. I also just launched a YouTube channel where I share my steps to success in writing and movies. That can be found by going to You Tube and searching for landriaonkka.com. Feel free to find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Landria-Onkka-Books-and-Movies-1379357002394405/. Of course, my books are available on Amazon.com and a Google search pulls up just about everything you want to (or not want to) know about me!
Thank you so much for this fun interview! I’ll be tracking your site for more, great movies and comments.
Thank you so much Landria - for doing this interview today with me on "It's a Wonderful Movie"! I know you have certainly garnered my curiosity and interest in your inspiring Christmas story - and I'm sure many of my readers, as well! You have been a joy to "work with", most generous with your time, and kind... and I'm most excited and looking forward to us chatting again about your future projects!
If my followers here would like to read Landria Onkka's 'The Rooftop Christmas Tree' before it's debut on TV, you can get your copy today at Amazon!
And, be sure to mark your calendars now! "The Rooftop Christmas Tree" movie is currently scheduled to premiere on UP-TV, December 1, 2016. Be sure to stay tuned here for any further updates, details, movie images, and more...!