Wednesday, October 20, 2021

This website isn't active

For information on novelist and TV writer Zoe Whittall, or her latest novel The Spectacular, please visit here. The bio below is now outdated.

Friday, December 11, 2020

2020 Update

I no longer have a website nor do I update this blog, but if you're a journalist looking to confirm a current biography, here is mine: Zoe Whittall's third novel, The Best Kind of People, was published in September 2017 by Penguin Random House U.S. (and House of Anansi Canada and Hodder UK in 2016) and is currently being adapted for limited series by director Sarah Polley, was shortlisted for The Scotiabank Giller Prize, named Indigo's #1 Book of 2016, and a best book of the year by Walrus Magazine, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Life, & The National Post. the Lambda award-winning Holding Still For As Long As Possible (House of Anansi, 09/10) and Bottle Rocket Hearts (Cormorant, 07) which was named a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year, made the CBC Canada Reads Top Ten Essential Novels of the decade, translated into French and optioned for film. Holding Still for as Long as Possible was shortlisted for the Relit Award, and named an American Library Association Stonewall honor book. She has published one short novel for adults with low literacy skills called The Middle Ground (Orca Books, 2010.) She won the Writers' Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Award in 2008. Her poetry books include The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (McG, 01) and The Emily Valentine Poems (Snare, 06) and Precordial Thump (Exile, 08). She edited the anthology Geeks, Misfits & Outlaws in 2003. Her short fiction has been published in Granta, Cosmonauts Ave, Prism, Grain and others. In 2014 Whittall sold her first sitcom Breaking to CTV, and recently optioned a half-hour comedy called Wellville to CBC. She has worked as a TV writer on the Emmy-Award winning comedy show Schitt’s Creek, and The Baroness Von Sketch Show, for which she won a 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Writing, Variety or Sketch Comedy, and was nominated again in 2019. Vogue Magazine called The Baroness Von Sketch Show "the best thing out of Canada since Ryan Gosling". She has written three volumes of poetry. Her next novel, The Spectacular, is forthcoming with Random House in the U.S. and HarperCollins in Canada, in fall of 2021. She was born on a sheep farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and has called Toronto home since 1997.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


I'm shutting this blog down, though maybe keeping it up as an archive. My new website is:

Friday, October 24, 2014


I'm not updating this blog very often, but I am posting current information about readings, appearances, articles and publications on my Facebook page and on Twitter. My next novel, The Best Kind of People, will be published in spring 2016 with House of Anansi. Season 14 of Degrassi starts next week, and I was very happy to be a story editor and part of the writers' room for the entire season. I'll be in Montreal reading at Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore on November 7th, reading in Toronto on November 5th at the Brockton Writer's Series, and November 24th at the launch of Best Canadian Poetry in Toronto at Joy Bistro. If you are a journalist culling information from this blog to include in an article, please consult with me via email or the publicity team at House of Anansi for updated information. Thanks.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Montreal Blue Metropolis Festival next weekend

On May 3rd I'll be in Montreal for the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival for two events. You can read about The Walrus Talks event here. In other news: My new novel The Normal will be out with House of Anansi in spring 2016. I'm thrilled to work with them again. I'm currently developing my original sitcom pilot with CTV, and working as a writer on season 14 of Degrassi. For more ongoing updates you can follow me on

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Book Club edition of Holding Still for as Long as Possible coming in April!

If you click on the photo to the left, you can read the new catalogue copy and see the cover of the book club edition of Holding Still. I hope you like it. Feel free to comment if you have an interested book club. I'll be in Montreal on May 3rd for an event with Walrus Talks, the series by Walrus Magazine, at the Blue Met literary festival. In Toronto I'll be reading at The Steady Bar and Cafe on March first with Kristyn Dunnion, Shani Mootoo, Emma McKenna, Tara-Michelle Ziniuk, and Morgan Page. More dates TBA. I hope you're all keeping warm out there!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My interview with legendary author Sarah Schulman appears in the February issue of The Believer. Here is a link to a preview sample from the piece.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Winter update

It has been quite a long time, my dear 12 readers. I am still here and excited about turning over a new leaf in 2013. There hasn't been much to update you about in 2012.

In the fall I had two excellent readings in Edmonton, and a talk at York University, but other than that I've been at home, tapping away at my new novel, The Worst Kind of People and the film script for Holding Still for as Long as Possible.

I have been paying the bills teaching writing at The University of Guelph, and online for the University of Toronto. I'll be teaching a second level short story workshop starting in February if you'd like to join the class. I've also been doing little things like this for CBC Music, and reviewing books for The Walrus and the Globe, most recently the musical teen dream memoir 1982 by Jian Ghomeshi. You can also check out the February issue of The Believer Magazine for my interview with the lovely and iconic author Sarah Schulman. If you haven't already, I would urge you to read Sweet Jesus, the new novel by Christine Pountney, my favourite Canadian book of 2012. And to stop myself from posting yet another photo of one of my cats, here is me in my Edmonton hotel room wearing the most excellent new dress from Rowena in #yeg, the best dress shop in Canada, perhaps?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Conversation with Sarah Slean on CBC Music, and quick summer update

You can click here to read a conversation I had with musician Sarah Slean for the CBC music website. I haven't been updating this site very often lately - mostly because I've been working on the new book and I haven't been making many public appearances. But I'm always on Twitter, if you'd like to follow me there, or on Facebook. Here's a photo of what my cat does while we're watching Jeopardy.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

We've been in a tropical moonlight night / 'Cause nobody taught her 'bout you*

It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm trying to get back into the swing of things after a relaxing week spent here:
In a month I'll be heading to The Banff Arts Centre to work diligently on the latest novel and a book of short stories. Some quick things:

Tomorrow I will be a guest at the Humber College Book Club - who have been reading Holding Still for as Long as Possible. I love book club visits.

On June 12th, I will be reading at a Night of Literature and Storytelling for Thunder Bay Pride at the Mary JL Black Library with fellow writers Susan Goldberg - an old friend from the Stern Writing Mistresses writing group days - Rachel Mishenene,and Ma-Nee Chacaby.

If you're in Toronto for Pride this year I'll be doing a stand-up comedy gig with fellow scribe Mariko Tamaki.

I wrote a guest books column for The Toronto Standard.

In May my good friend Grace O'Connell will be launching her first novel The Magnified World - which is brilliant, btw. I reviewed for Fashion. I would strongly recommend that you pick it up for your summer reading pleasure.

*Lyrics taken from the soundtrack to our trip to the Bahamas, which was of course, Bahamas. (Ok, this was also on repeat. Love Kelly!)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Interview in Maisonneuve Magazine

You can read an interview with me on Maisonneuve Magazine's blog, about writing and my short story "Oh, El" which was recently published in the print version of the magazine.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

mostly I've been swimming in lakes, but also...

- I have a new short story called It's Just Not Working Out in the lastest issue of THIS magazine
- I'm reading on August 11 at Another Story Bookstore on Roncesvalles Ave in Toronto

Other than that, I'm working away on the new novel, and occasionally on the collection of short stories called We Might Be The Worst People on Earth.

For some folks who asked on Twitter, I do love attending book club meetings. If you'd be interested in booking something like that you can reach me via for Holding Still for as Long as Possible, or for Bottle Rocket Hearts.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Holding Still for as Long as Possible wins a Lambda Literary Award!!!

I just returned from an overnight trip to NYC for the Lambda Literary Awards. My most recent novel won in the best Transgender Fiction category. You can read about the night on the Entertainment Weekly blog? For real.

This is Emma Donoghue announcing my book in the best lesbian fiction category. Eileen Myles, who faithful readers will know is a friend and someone I admire very much, won the prize. So that rocks.

Me clutching my prize in a lovely state of shock.

My fellow canuck nominees and seatmates: Daniel Allen Cox, Amber Dawn and Vivek Shraya.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

spring update

Hi folks,

I had an awesome reading at the Parliament street library in Toronto last week. I talked about my rapid reads novel, The Middle Ground, published by Orca Books. I haven't had such a lovely and engaged crowd in quite a while. I will find out on June 9th if it wins the Ontario Library Association's Golden Oak award.

In other news, I'm currently at work on my screenplay and the fourth novel, and I'm also trying to learn to drive. I'm pretty terrible at it so far.

There is a great review up on the Lambda Literary Awards of Holding Still for as Long as Possible. Here is an excerpt:

"The book is grounded in Josh’s EMT work, weaving cardiac arrest and twelve hour shifts among the nuances of these characters’ relationships with each other, creating a foundation of trauma that expertly juxtaposes life against death. And Josh within himself is a case study of perfect post-coming out literature: while we know he is trans, we’re following him in his life as it is, not while he struggles with identity, or patiently explains hormones to new friends. Josh is just a guy, and with these parameters we get one of the best trans man portraits fiction has yet to see.

Whittall also paints confident portraits of each character’s fluid sexuality, without getting bogged down in labels and politics: Amy is still attached to her ex-boyfriend Jason, but crushes out on the girl she sees at Starbucks; Billy doesn’t bat an eye when she morphs from mourning her girlfriend of seven years to falling for a guy. Whittall is expertly setting the tone for a whole new generation of queer fiction.

Whittall demonstrates her talent in the book’s crescendo, a flawlessly narrated collision of the characters’ lives. With the ending, a story that begins as interesting catapults into un-put-downable, and cements the characters of Josh and Amy and Billy in my heart. I’m still thinking about them. I can’t wait to see what queer magic Whittall pens next."

Monday, April 18, 2011

OP Mag reviews Holding Still for as Long as Possible

The wonderful Tom Leger, publisher of Topside Press in NYC has reviewed HSFALAP on the Original Plumbing magazine blog. I would encourage you to read the whole review here. But if you're in a scanning mood, here is an excerpt:

"The thing that makes this novel markedly different than almost every other novel ever written in the history of the novel, is that it is written from an insider’s perspective about young trans and queer people ... it is an immensely important book. Holding Still might be the first of a new upsurge in literature about trans people – authentic narratives, executed skillfully and received with great acclaim. I want you to read this book and I want you to write a novel, because I want to read more of these. I want trans people to realize that our lives, that our communities, that our worlds are valuable and deserve to be recorded."

That last line made me tear up a little bit. Thanks Tom!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Holding Still for as Long as Possible is nominated for two LAMBDA Literary Awards!

This is a photo from Xtra's article about the awards
HSFALAP is on the shortlist for Transgender fiction and Lesbian fiction. I am beyond thrilled!

Xtra! wrote an article about all the Canadians on the 2011 list.

I'm pleased to see fellow Canadian femme Amber Dawn's book Sub Rosa nominated for Debut Lesbian Fiction. I just interviewed her for Queeries. Also happy to see Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation on the list. I just finished reading it, and it rocked.

In other news, I'll be working with writer Lisa Foad on the film version of HSFLAP this year. And I just found out that Bottle Rocket Hearts the film is going to receive funding from Telefilm. All in all, a tremendous week. Plus, it's warm enough to ride my bike. Woot!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Featured in Elle Magazine!

This is the issue here on the right, and Biggie Smalls is only pretending not to be interested.

In other news, I'll be on CBC Radio's Day 6 show tomorrow with a silly rant I wrote about my anxiety around the boomers aging.

Friday, January 07, 2011


A lovely surprise when I returned home from vacation: I made the cover of Xtra! magazine in December. I had to post this photo taken by lovely performance artist Jess Dobkin. It features a great sticker from the 2010 Take Back the Dyke march - the highlight of my 2010 pride week. Thanks to Alice Lawlor for the fantastic article, of which I will excerpt here:
It’s been quite a year for Zoe Whittall. In the spring, her critically acclaimed second novel — a vivid depiction of Toronto’s Queen West community entitled Holding Still for as Long as Possible — was published in paperback. Then it was nominated for a ReLit Award, an honour that recognizes the best new work from independent publishers.
And in the fall, Canada Reads came calling.
In other news, I will be appearing in Winnipeg on March 7th with Chandra Mayor and Ivan Coyote, and in Ottawa at Algonquin College some time this spring. Algonquin chose Holding Still for as Long as Possible for their One School One Book campaign.

!! How could I forget - I'm appearing in the anthology Persistence: All Things Butch and Femme edited by Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman.

If you're in Toronto, you might see me trying my hand at stand-up comedy. I'm not quite brave enough to advertise my gigs yet...but perhaps I will in the future.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bottle Rocket Hearts makes the Canada Reads Top Ten!

Thanks so much to Cormorant Books for the stellar campaign, everyone who voted, and Dance Yourself to Death! I just screamed so loud the cats ran under the couch! Happy Tuesday indeed, Jian.

*dorky CBC retro t-shirt in photo is completely nerd-tentional.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Bottle Rocket Hearts for Canada Reads

Bryan Ibeas and Carolyn McNeillie at Cormorant Books made this film to promote my novel for Canada Reads. I know my book is a bit of a long shot, so we thought it wouldn't hurt to find a creative way to get the word out. The film features original music by my favourite Toronto band, Dance Yourself to Death.

What do you think? I'm sorry I don't know how to make the screen fit - I'm not exactly a tech whiz.:)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Positive review of Holding Still for as Long as Possible in Booklist

Holding Still for as Long as Possible.
Whittall, Zoe (author).
Sept. 2010. 300p. Anansi, paperback, $14.95 (9780887849640).
First published September 15, 2010 (Booklist).
This captivating glimpse into the lives of three twentysomethings showcases Whittall’s ability to create complex characters. Connected through social circles in their Toronto neighborhood, they struggle to accept the past while mapping out the future: Josh, a female-to-male transgender works strenuous shifts as a paramedic and tries to erase from his mind the atrocities he witnesses daily; Amy, his ex-girlfriend and an amateur filmmaker, lives off of her wealthy parents; and Billy, a former child pop star, now endures extreme anxiety attacks. As the three become wrapped up in each others’ lives, the emotional roller coaster dips and rises. Haunted by memories of the tragedy of 9/11 and of the rampant fear of a SARS epidemic, which served as the scenery of their youth, this new generation’s members proclaim their true feelings through text messages and drown their excess emotion in booze. A poignant climax seems almost like a dream as the characters drift toward the shattering conclusion. An unforgettable depiction of growing up in the new millennium.
— Annie McCormick

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bottle Rocket Hearts made the 2011 Canada Reads Top 40!

It's my partner's birthday today, and this morning she sent me a text from work that said: "All I want for my birthday is for you to get on the Canada Reads list!" Isn't that the sweetest thing? My gf has amazing luck, so it happened! Bottle Rocket Hearts made the top 40.

You can go here to vote. You can read more about Bottle Rocket Hearts on the Cormorant Books website, which also features a handy electronic preview of the first chapter, so if you're not familiar with the book you can feel free to check it out.

Thanks so much to everyone who voted.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Canada Reads

Much to my delight, someone else has recommended my first novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts, for Canada Reads 2011. If you would like to see it become one of the 40 books the panelists will have to choose from, you can go here to vote. There are lots of fantastic books on the list so far.

Personally, I'd love to see so many books on the list - When I Was Young and In My Prime by Alayna Munce, Fauna by Alyssa York, or Cumberland by Michael V. Smith - and these are just the ones I'm thinking of off the top of my head.

I'm sitting in my hotel room in London, Ontario right now. This afternoon I'm speaking on a panel with Shelagh Rogers from the CBC. Then it's back to Toronto, and back to work on the script version of Bottle Rocket Hearts, and my short story collection in progress.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

From the Chelsea Hotel

We're about to go to my reading at the McNally Jackson store. First a brief nap - we're tired from walking around the east and west villages today. Loving NYC - wish we had more time here. Had brunch with the lovely poet and novelist, Eileen Myles, and our tour mates, Emily Schultz and Brian Joseph Davis. Then we went to The Strand - epic book heaven.

Monday, September 06, 2010

ReLit Shortlist & NYC reading

Holding Still for as Long as Possible, now available in the United States, was short-listed for the ReLit Award. Poets & Writers magazine blogged about it, and included my (veerrry DIY, slightly embarrassing) book trailer.

I'm very excited about my very first spot on a shortlist and honoured to be included.

Next week I'll be in New York City, reading at the McNally Jackson store with fellow Anansi author Emily Schultz, along with Jim Hanas and Amanda Stern.

You can follow me on twitter here.