I think anybody who gets the writing bug was first infected by the reading germ. My Dad loved books and a good story, and he turned me on to reading at an early age. He loved Edgar Rice Burroughs, Zane Grey, Luke Short, and a host of other writers. He had all the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars books, and some really old dime paperbacks from before WWII, and I read most of them as a boy, and they all influenced me.
I never tried writing, though, till I was an adult. I played around with short stories some, finished a few, accumulated some rejections, and started a novel, which has been a work in progress for more years than I want to think about. But it’s almost finished (about draft 5, I think), and I hope to have it on Kindle soon. It’s called “Seed”, and you can preview the first 2 chapters on my website at www.dragonlyre.com.
My writing influences? Edgar Rice Burroughs, of course. A co-worker once gave me a dog-eared copy of “The Key-lock Man”, by Louis L’Amour, and I was hooked. I’ve read all of his, and have them all. He’s my huge western influence. On the horror side there’s Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz, F. Paul Wilson, Jonathan Maberry. Thrillers and suspense – John Sandford; Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; Randy Wayne White; C.J. Box. Adventure – Ken Follett; James Rollins; Clive Cussler. And I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Classics – Mark Twain.
These are my writing heroes. The plateau they’ve reached may elude me, but they give me something to aspire to.
One thing that impressed me was the big-name authors who graciously responded to emails I sent them asking questions. Jonathan Maberry was one, Lincoln Child another. Both answered promptly, were down to earth and helpful. I think many name writers would do the same.