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About Randall


Randall Silvis is the multi-genre author of nineteen critically acclaimed novels, three story collections, and two books of creative nonfiction. He was the first Pennsylvanian to win the prestigious Drue Heinz Literature Prize (1984), and was chosen for that award by author Joyce Carol Oates. His work has been published in over a hundred editions in several languages.


Also a prize-winning playwright and produced screenwriter, Randall’s work has appeared on Best of the Year lists from the New York Times, the Toronto Globe & Mail,, Strand magazine, and the International Association of Crime Writers, and has been hailed as “masterful” not only by the New York Times Book Review but also by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Mystery Scene magazine, and several other review sources. His two novels from 2017, (Two Days Gone and Only the Rain) were Amazon #1 Bestsellers in Psychological Suspense.


Silvis has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his short fiction, and was a two-time Hammett Prize finalist for literary excellence in the field of crime writing (for An Occasional Hell and Two Days Gone.) The recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowships, a Fulbright Senior Scholar Research Award, and six writing fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for his fiction, drama, and screenwriting, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Clarion University of Pennsylvania in 1988, and in 2001 received the same honor from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In 2007 IUP bestowed upon him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree for “a sustained record of distinguished literary achievement.”



Randall has thirty years of experience as a teacher of creative writing, including long-term stints at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and Seton Hill University. He has served as a visiting writer at numerous other universities, conferences and workshops, including The Ohio State University, Mercyhurst College, the English Association of Pennsylvania State Universities Conference, the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts Conference, the University of Pittsburgh, the Cape Cod Writers Workshop, the New Jersey Writers Workshop, the University of Oklahoma Short Course in Professional Writing, and others.


The following is a small sample of responses to his classes:


From MFA students in the Seton Hill University fiction workshops

  • “He goes for the jugular every time, but with love and an incredible intent to make things better. He is a treasure.”

  • “I would sit in on any of Mr. Silvis’s critique sessions. The man is brilliant.”

  • “Mr. Silvis is a fabulous workshop leader. He has a unique way of leading, and other leaders should follow it.”

  • “Randall runs the best workshops.”

  • “I'm amazed at how consistently insightful Randall is, across every genre.”

  • “I would give him a 10 on a 1-4 scale if I could. If Randall isn’t the best mentor in the program, I don’t know who is.”

  • “This man has so much knowledge about the craft of writing and the business side of the art. I could listen to him talk all day.”


From his peers in academia

  • “Randall is an exemplary teacher. His faculty evaluations are stellar. Dr. Jeffery Bartone, noting Dr. Silvis’ ‘dynamic classroom presence’ and ‘compassionate approach to teaching,’ concludes: ‘This was, without question, one of the best classes I have had the privilege of observing at Edinboro University.’ Professor Thomas Lipinski observes that the amount Dr. Silvis was able to accomplish in a class session ‘resulted from the bond of mutual respect established’ with his students. My colleagues and I consider ourselves lucky to have been able to work with Randall over the years.” Dr. Mary Paniccia Carden, English Department Chair, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

  • “Randall Silvis knows the worlds of writing and publishing from the inside-out. Unlike many writers, he also possesses the ability to communicate his knowledge in a clear, logical and succinct manner, not in just one genre of creative writing but in many.” William Allen, Director Emeritus of the Ohio State University Creative Writing Program.

  • “Each time I hear him speak I am impressed by Randall Silvis’s ability to inspire young writers and to capture an audience with the power of his words and the sincerity of his inspiring model of the dedicated writer.” Dr. Kenneth Schiff, Director Emeritus of the Creative Writing Program, Mercyhurst College.

  • “He was an even more gifted teacher than I expected. He has an ingratiating sense of humor and a natural, easy manner, but I was especially impressed with how well-organized he was and how much information he imparted in such a short time. Between sessions, students gathered around Randall to ask questions and wrote glowing evaluations when the conference was over.” Dr. Kirk Weixel, Saint Francis University, and the Ligonier Valley Writers Conference.

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