Someone issued another FaceBook Challenge: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.
So. Okay... in no particular order:
Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling -- Yes, they are editors, but ... Yes, I have many of the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies. I have another little gem from the mid-80's (oops, I thought Datlow edited it too, but it's only Windling) called Faery! It's very cool, and we're not talking sweetness and light sensitive new age fair folk, either.
Jane Yollen -- I like her use of language and her humor. Touch Magic explores the boundaries of truth, myth, and language in story telling. Merlin's Booke is a collection of Merlin stories, and it's interesting to see how she has created variations on a theme. Cards of Grief is a science fiction tale exploring the boundaries between legend, myth, history, power and gender.
Ronald Hutton -- While a historian not a speculative fiction writer, his books on English Neo-Paganism have influenced me greatly. Specifically, I like how he takes a look at founding myths and their histories. My favorite is Truimph of the Moon, and I like his collection of essays, Witches, Druids and King Arthur. I need a copy of Stations of the Sun.
Starhawk -- Her genius (and fatal flaw) is finding a poetic metaphor that best captures complicated issues. It's her fatal flaw because it sometimes leads her readers to reason by analogy or to base conclusions solely on imagination. But, hey - I read The Spiral Dance, Dreaming the Dark, and Truth or Dare and was transformed. I don't care for her novels as much as her non-fiction, but I do like some of her short stories.
Issac Asimov -- Three. Laws. of. Robotics. Okay, and Psychohistory. He pretty much defined the genre of the science fiction short story.
JRR Tolkien -- Language! Elves (and not your punky snowboarding pretty-boy Elves, either)! Beauty that is Perilous in its ability to Enchant and Transform. Ents! and Stars! OK... short on female characters who aren't trophy princesses... but still. If you haven't read his short essay On Fairy Stories, stop what you're doing now.
CS Lewis -- Probably my favorite book growing up was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I also liked A Horse and His Boy. I completely missed the "Aslan = Christ" thing until I was much, much older. The Screwtape Letters were interesting at first, but tiresome to read.... and at the time I read it (decades ago) I wished Perelandra were much shorter.
Sheri S Tepper -- I loved her nine-volume series set in the Land of the True Game. I love her sarcasm. I love most of her social commentary. Of her more recent writings, I enjoyed The Family Tree.
Mercedies Lacky -- Whenever I need to read an entertaining story, I turn to Valdamar (at least in its earlier stories). Although it was fun to have an out gay hero like Vanyel Ashkevron, I like the stories with Tarma, Kethry and Warrl the best.
Ursula K Le Guin -- Another language author. I read the Earthsea trilogy when I was eleven or twelve, and the Lathe of Heaven a few years later. What I like about her stories is that she's able to create complex and believable characters from a range of genders and ages.
Mary Stewart -- The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment were my gateway books to the Arthurian Romances. I loved them. Merlin in these stories was gritty and his magic was downplayed by his use of psychology.
Sprague de Camp -- I'm not sure when in my teen years I bumped into Harold Shea, the Incomplete Enchanter, but I loved the idea of literally jumping into stories where magic worked. I'm not sure that it would be one of my favorites today, but it certainly influenced me in the 1970's.
Marion Zimmer Bradley -- I was never much of a Darkover fan, but I did like her Lythande short stories and I adored the Sword and Sorceress series.
Charles de Lint -- I need to re-read some of his works. I particularly liked Greenmantle; I prefer his fantasy over his horror. I also liked the way that he used language, his use of music, and how he had the natural world inform his magical world.
Patricia C Wrede -- Before she wrote Talking to Dragons in 1985, she wrote one of my favorites, The Harp of Imach Thyssel. I loved most all of her World of Lyra stories.
Emma Bull -- War for the Oaks. Early 80's rocker meets the Seelie Court. It's like Labyrinth, only grittier and with better dialog. I re-read it every so often and am always pleased.
Orson Scott Card -- Sure, I liked Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, but I like his short stories a whole lot better. They have a masterful use of language and he is wonderful at giving story endings a little twist. And, uh, no -- I don't agree with his personal politics.
I wanted (and still want) to write like these folks when I was a kid. When I think about my own writing in comparison, I can in part trace the wonder of connection, a love of language use, and humor back to the above authors.