Whittall was born on February 16, 1976 in the small town of South Durham, Quebec. Upon graduating from Dawson College she began publishing poems and short works of fiction within the small-magazine scene in Montreal and also developed the reading series Girlspit. Her first book of poetry, The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life, was released in 2001. That same year, she was hired to edit a book of Canadian outsider literature which came to be called Geeks, Misfits, and Outlaws. These publications introduced Whittall's aesthetic to a wider audience and she soon came to be seen as a voice for alternative culture in Canada.
In 2006, Whittall resurfaced, this time in Toronto, Ontario, with a second book of poetry, The Emily Valentine Poems, and a first novel published by Cormorant Books, Bottle Rocket Hearts. The critical success of especially the novel brought her respect from new quarters of the Canadian literary establishment, a fact cemented by her being named, in 2007, Toronto's Best Emerging Writer by the alternative weekly newspaper, NOW.Whittall's newest collection of poetry is Precordial Thump, published in 2008. In 2009 House of Anansi published her second novel, Holding Still For As Long As Possible. Whittall also contributed the story "Sissy" to A hub for short fiction."