To TV audiences she may be better known as a four-time Emmy-nominated writer and producer (Joan of Arcadia, Judging Amy), but to avid readers she’s a novelist with 11 published works whose imagination has been honored by numerous institutions, including the American Library Association in both their Best Books and Notable Books categories.
An accomplished author, Hall wrote three young adult novels including: Skeeball and the Secret of the Universe, Dixie Storms and Fool’s Hill, as well as the mystery House Across the Cove. Her other novels include A Better Place, Close to Home and A Summons to New Orleans. Her newest novel, Charisma, was realized October 2013.
As a child in Chatham, Virginia, Hall had a single vision, which moved her toward writing by the isolation, even frustration, of a small Southern town. The youngest of three siblings, she often collaborated on stories with her older sister, knowing by age 8 what career path lay ahead.
She attended James Madison University, garnering a myriad of awards on the way to an English degree. Recognizing that a struggling writer should choose between New York and Los Angeles, two days after graduation she moved to L.A. Says Hall, “I figured if I had to starve, I didn’t have to freeze.”
On the west coast, she wrote her first novel, Skeeball and the Secret of the Universe, which got the attention of an agent and, consequently, producer Gary David Goldberg. Despite the fact that there were few women writers in TV in the early ‘80s, Hall sold her first story to Family Ties and was soon hired by Newhart as a comedy writer before being promoted to story editor.
Disliking the roundtable format of comedy writing, Hall moved to the more personal medium of drama. As story editor, she honed her chops with Joshua Brand and John Falsey on A Year In the Life before co-producing Moonlighting and producing Anything But Love. In 1990, she began a tenure with David Chase (The Sopranos) as co-executive producer of I’ll Fly Away,which completely changed her creative approach, “the closest I ever came to fiction writing on television.” She subsequently reunited with Brand, Falsey, and Chase as consulting producer on Northern Exposure.
Hall furthered her reputation as a can-do producer with three television pilots, including The Doyles, which TV Guide endorsed as a great show whose potential was never exploited. Undaunted, she wrote a memorable episode of ER before spending two years with Chicago Hope, first as co-executive producer, then as consulting producer. In 1999, Hall was tapped to executive produce Judging Amy, a one-hour show about a juvenile court judge and single mother (Amy Brenneman). During its six seasons, the hit CBS drama earned kudos for its star as well as Tyne Daly, who portrayed her quirky yet well-meaning mother, a former social worker.
With an earnest sense of mysticism, Hall next created and executive produced Joan of Arcadia, reinventing the Joan of Arc legend for modern audiences. The Emmy-nominated CBS series explored the earthly dance between physics and metaphysics in the form of Joan (Amber Tamblyn), an otherwise normal teenager who keeps meeting God in different human forms. More recently, Hall wrote and executive produced Ultra, a TV pilot based on a graphic novel about a female superhero juggling a crime-fighting career with the demands of an active single’s social life, and the CBS pilot Demons, which not only exposed supernatural occurrences, but also the everyday lives of exorcists.
Hall made inroads into feature film with her original screenplay, Hearts, for Warner Bros. and a rewrite of Sylvie for Beacon Pictures, but she never let a successful Hollywood career diminish her enthusiasm for the novel. Her first long-form work, Skeeball and the Secret of the Universe (1987, Orchard Press), wove the tale of a boy from a blue-collar family whose quest to do something important spurs him to become the world’s greatest skeeball player. Her subsequent young adult novels include: Dixie Storms (1990, HBJ), a family crucible set on a Virginia tobacco farm; Fool’s Hill (1992, Bantam), a small-town tale of friendship and betrayal; and the mystery House Across the Cove (1995, Bantam).
Bridging into novels for mature readers, Hall penned A Better Place (1992, Simon & Schuster), about an egocentric woman whose failure in Hollywood is met by fear in her home town when people learn she is returning; and Close to Home (1997, Simon & Schuster), a dark tale about a woman who begins to learn disturbing things about her new husband and his home town where they now live. Her novel A Summons To New Orleans (Simon & Schuster), was released in 2000 and centered around three female friends and a rape trial set in the Cajun city. Hall recently came out with her young adult novel, The Noah Confessions (Random House) last year.
“The greatest achievement in writing is to make people laugh one minute and cry the next,” she explains. “All of my heroes did that, from Mark Twain to Preston Sturges. At the end of the day, I try to bring to my work a sense of hopefulness.” Her work has clearly resonated with audiences and critics alike. Hall has been nominated for four Emmys (Joan of Arcadia, I’ll Fly Away, Northern Exposure) and a Golden Laurel from the Producers Guild of America, earning a Humanitas Award, NAACP Image Award and TV Critics Association Award. Judging Amy was nominated for New Program of the Year by the Television Critics Association and won Favorite New Series at the 2000 TV Guide Awards. Joan of Arcadia brought four Emmy nominations including Outstanding Drama Series and a People’s Choice Award for Favorite New Drama Series, among other honors.
Currently, Hall is serving as a co-executive producer of the Emmy-winning Showtime drama Homeland, inking a two-year deal with studio Fox 21. In addition, she is developing a separate script at CBS.
Hall is also a founding member of the alternative country rock band The Enablers, with whom she has released two albums. As a solo artist, she released her debut, Handsome, in 2005 and second CD, Bad Man, in 2013.