The HSW Literary Agency



Nairne Holtz

Nairne Holtz is a Montreal-based fiction writer whose first novel, The Skin Beneath (Insomniac, 2007), won the Alice B. Lesbian Debut Fiction Award and was a finalist for Quebec’s McAuslan First Book Prize. This One’s Going to Last Forever, Nairne’s second book, is a finalist for the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for lesbian fiction.

Works on Offer:

Insomniac Press
April 2009
Rights: World, excluding Canada and the U.S.

*Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction*

This One’s Going to Last Forever reflects both the naïve optimism of those who have yet to learn about love and the cynicism of those who feel that by now they should know better. Clara, a university student working at the McGill Daily, discovers that in love and politics, commitment is often more imagined than real. Kelly and Sonya share a bond that has less to do with love than with their dependence on each other and a succession of “friends” who supply them with heroin. A middle-aged man who performs drive-through weddings dressed as Elvis realizes, as he marries his first same-sex couple, that the only domestic partner he is ever likely to have is his ailing father. But when he ends his latest relationship, an unlikely friendship results. The characters in these darkly comic stories and novella may be searching for love in all the wrong places, but they are also able to find love in the most unexpected places. 

“…a funny, witty and original book.”

-- The Gazette (Montreal) June 5, 2009

“Critically hailed Montreal author Nairne Holtz proves she's no flash in the pan with this collection of queer-themed short stories and a 100-page novella.... Darkly comic and deeply heartfelt."

--  June 18, 2009

“…marked by impressively energetic prose, deft characterizations and perfectly persuasive scenes of erotic realism that convey all the complex heartbreak and adventure of sex, without a hint of prurience or narrative awkwardness, the twin demons that haunt most attempts to capture our sexual lives on the page…. [The] quality and energy of the narratives are so outstanding that it is hard to pick a favourite…. Holtz is an author who can range from the erotic to the absurd to the tragic without a false note. She is clearly ‘a writer to watch,’ as Margaret Cannon observed in these pages in 2007.”

-- Globe & Mail

 “More a finely crafted collage of vignettes d’amour than a compilation of short stories, the darkly comic collection is a splendid follow-up to her 2007 award-winning debut The Skin Beneath…. [This One’s Going to Last Forever] does well to skilfully manoeuvre its way through the maze of adult relationships, highlighting the choices we make and their ensuing consequences and complications.”

-- The Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

“Holtz’s work is rich and combines the personal with the political through characters that are engaged in real struggles and triumphs. Highly recommended.”


“Holtz's bravura fictional insights about young life and love are a tonic… she's a lesbian writer with delicious cross-gender appeal. None of the stories pall, but the standout is the longest, ‘Are You Committed?,’ which dwells on the political and sexual angst of college students with spot-on resonance.”

-- Between The Lines, Farmington, MI

Insomniac Press
June 2007
Rights: World, excluding Canada and the U.S.

“…the unsigned card reveals new and troubling details of her sister's death…”

The Skin Beneath is both a taut, fast-paced psychological thriller and a literary novel that probes the nature of conspiracy, memory, and desire. 

Five years after her sister died of an alleged drug overdose, Sam O’Connor receives an anonymous postcard claiming that her sister Chloe was investigating a conspiracy. The unsigned card reveals new and troubling details of her sister's death. Sam decides to move to Montreal where she tracks down the beguiling and enigmatic players in her sister's life: a gangster, an exotic dancer, a conspiracy freak, assorted anarchists and fringe members of the extreme right. The more Sam discovers about the tattered world in which her sister lived, spanning Montreal, New York, Toronto and Detroit, the less she is able to discern whether the conspiracy is a fact or a fantasy, and in turn, whether her sister's death was murder or suicide. During her quest, Sam is forced to ask not only how well she knows the people around her, but also how well she knows herself.

“Insomniac Press may have marketed Nairne Holtz’s first novel as a murder mystery, but The Skin Beneath has a literary undercurrent that pulls it beyond the shallows of mystery fiction, into the depths of conspiracy theory, with streams of social commentary running through it….The novel is ultimately a test of appearances, questioning what people are composed of beneath their facades, social codes and sexual appearances….The steady pace and eclectic collection of characters of this novel set in a convincing murky underground world and penned with a literary eye, make it worth the read. On her first time out, Holtz has certainly had a lot of fun.”

-- Maisonneuve, July 7, 2007

“A Montreal writer, erstwhile librarian and co-editor of a lesbian fiction anthology, Holtz has produced a novel that cheerfully thwarts classification. Sam’s questions are deliberately left unanswered, but her grief is afforded some resolution. Does that make The Skin Beneath a mystery novel or lesbian fiction? The answer, one hopes, need not be either.”

-- The Gazette (Montreal) July 28, 2007

“This book is a very promising debut from Montreal author Nairne Holtz. There are lots of red herrings and undercurrents, many questions to answer and clues to follow in this complex novel…a fine first novel.”

-- The Globe and Mail, July 21, 2007

“Holtz has a gift for writing spicy sex scenes and believable dyke drama that don’t make you feel like you’re reading a cheesy lesbian novel from the early 90s. She skilfully evokes Montreal’s cabaret culture of preening dyke hipsters as well as the 20-something slackers whom she calls yuffies (young urban failures). Set aside an afternoon and read it in one sitting. You won’t be able to stop once you’ve started.”

-- NOW Magazine, May 21 – June 6, 2007