Liisa Kovala is a Finnish-Canadian author living in Sudbury, Ontario with her husband, Michael, and their young adult children, Mia and Kieran. Liisa is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Authors Association, and president of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild. She earned a graduate certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers and a Creative Writing Certificate from the University of Toronto. Her work explores her Finnish heritage and celebrates the northern landscape she calls home.
Her debut novel, Sisu’s Winter War, for which she received a Literary Creation Project Grant from the Ontario Arts Council, explores the life of a former Lotta Svärd as she navigates a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s and her fading memories of life during the Winter War.
Surviving Stutthof, published by Latitude 46, recounts her father’s experiences as a Finnish merchant marine imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. It was short-listed for a Northern Lit Award in 2018 and was translated and published by Docendo in Finland.
As the first Russian bombs drop on Oulu, Finland in early 1940 during the Winter War, Aarne Kovala is a young boy with a great love of the sea. While the war rages, Aarne takes fate into his own hands and joins the Finnish merchant marines. He spends his days delivering war materials between Finland, Poland, and Germany. But when Finland’s ties with Germany are severed after the signing of the Moscow Armistice in 1944, Aarne and his fellow sailors are arrested by the Nazis and sent by cattle car to the infamous Stutthof concentration camp deep in the Polish forest. Surviving Stutthof is a tale of survival, hope, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.