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Liisa Kovala is a Finnish Canadian author and book coach. Her debut novel, Sisu's Winter War (Latitude 46, 2022), received a Literary Creation Project Grant from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). Liisa's first book, Surviving Stutthof: My Father’s Memories Behind the Death Gate (Latitude 46, 2017) was shortlisted for a Northern Lit Award and published in Finland under the title Stutthofin selviytyjä (Docendo, 2020).

Most recently, her historical fiction works-in-progress, entitled Like Water for Weary Souls and The Weeping Tree, also received Literary Creation Project Grants from the OAC. She was shortlisted for Geist's 2023 Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.

Liisa is a member of the Writers' Union of Canada, the Canadian Authors Association, and past president of the Sudbury Writers' Guild. She earned a graduate certificate in Creative Writing with distinction from Humber School for Writers and a Creative Writing Certificate from the University of Toronto.  

Her work is inspired by her Finnish heritage and the northern landscape she calls home. She is a nearly empty nester who lives in Sudbury, Ontario with her husband, obstinate cat Oscar, and energetic puppy Emmy.

Author Photo

Photo Credit: Westmount Photography




Liisa Kovala has achieved something extraordinary in telling her father’s remarkable story: she has turned living history into living art. Surviving Stutthof reads like a novel, but there is never any question that it is delivering a universal truth.

It's against this tumultuous backdrop that Liisa Kovala sets her evocative debut novel… In Meri, Kovala builds an irresistible, complex protagonist, exploring love, sacrifice, duty, and memory.

Liisa Kovala writes with tenderness and humanity, evoking the past as a complicated, treasured thing.

Jacqueline Baker,
Award-winning author of The Horseman's Graves

Open Book

Wayne Grady,
Award-winning author of Emancipation Day



Miramichi artwork

Review: Sisu's Winter War by Liisa Kovala

Alison Manley, The Miramichi Reader, January 22, 2022

A twisting journey through time and place, exploring family, relationships, war, and memory, Sisu’s Winter War is a historical novel focused on Meri, a Finnish woman who is shaped by the First Soviet-Finnish War, and the ripples that spin across her life throughout the decades. 



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Thank you to the Ontario Arts Council for their support of my most recent works-in-progress. Their support of Northern writers allows us to continue sharing our words with you. To learn more about OAC grants, visit

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