There's a lot of talk among writers about what other authors have influenced us, and that doesn't always mean in the same genre. To answer that question for anyone who may ask in the future, here's the ones who have made the biggest impact on me, what I write, and how I write it, along with the reasons they were selected. And for the record, these are in no particular order.

Stephen King: Let's be real here, I write horror. For that matter, I write, period. There is really no bigger influence on the authors of my generation than Uncle Steve. Like many, once I read On Writing, it gave me the courage to give it a shot. At the time I tried, things didn't work out, but I kept on trying, and now, I'm starting to get somewhere with it. Will I get as famous as he is, or make as much money as he does? I seriously doubt it. But I don't care. Without him showing the way, and entertaining me for so many long hours as a child / adolescent / teenager / adult, I wouldn't have even dreamed of trying to do this.

Richard Laymon: When it comes to modern horror, there are few authors who made as much of an impact as Richard Laymon. He's been described as "Stephen King without a conscience", and was even praised by King ("If you've missed Laymon, you've missed a treat"). He was the first to show me I didn't have to censor my writing to tell my story. He also wrote a book on the craft, called A Writer's Tale, and one line there stuck with me more than anything else I've ever read about this job: "write the books you want to read". Every time I sit down in front of the blank page, that's what's foremost in my mind.

John Skipp: The godfather of the "splatterpunk" movement in the nineties, his books with Craig Spector were my first introduction to horror that was a little more bloody than the stuff I'd read from King or Barker or the like. Those books made an impression, and helped form the stuff I do now.

Patrick Rothfuss: The Kingkiller Chronicles are an amazing take on stories within stories within stories. Every time I read them, I see more I didn't catch the first time around, and that doesn't change with additional re-reads. There's always something new. He is also a master of foreshadowing, and any time I need to see how to do that right, I go back to his work and see the way it should be done.

Robert Jordan: Everyone who writes fiction does world-building to some degree, and I've not seen anyone since Tolkein who so thoroughly detailed his fantasy worlds. If you need proof, you need look no further than The Wheel of Time Companion and see how much is there that never even made it into the fifteen books of that series. An incredible accomplishment, and an example to the rest of us. Even if it's just a single town in modern day with a few secrets, he set the tone for how to build the backstory in my mind before setting pen to paper.

Brian Keene: His books are great, but it's the way he reaches out to the younger generations of up-and-coming horror writers that really sticks with me. By all accounts, he's following the lead set by Laymon before his death, and has given me an example to aspire to. I can only hope to one day reach the level where I can offer that same helping hand to those who follow after me, too.

Christopher Moore: Seems a strange addition, doesn't he? But a twist of phrase, the knack for dialogue that is as ridiculous as real-life can be, and the interjection of humor, both subtle and overt, has stuck with me. Sometimes you need to keep the mood light, even in moments of darkness, and Moore does that well.

The following authors have influenced me in more subtle ways, whether it was just a way of forming prose, or a feeling I could evoke, or just by making me aspire to write something as good as what I read from them. They may not have a detailed reason, but they're every bit as influential to me as those listed above (again, in no particular order):

Bryan Smith, Kristopher Rufty, Jonathan Janz, George RR Martin, Jack Ketchum, Andrzej Sapkowski, Timothy Zhan, Clive Barker, Brandon Sanderson.

In addition to authors, however, there were certain books I've read over the years that just stuck with me for whatever reason, and are worthy enough to include here. Some were mentioned with their respective authors above, others were just something that hit me hard and made me want to make that much of an impact on someone else, too.

They are:

On Writing and It, Stephen King
A Writer's Tale and Darkness, Tell Us, Richard Laymon
The Light at the End and The Scream, John Skipp and Craig Spector
The Rising, Brian Keene
I'm Not Sam, Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee
The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
The Killing Kind, Bryan Smith
Angel Board, Kristopher Rufty
Love Lies Dying, Steve Gerlach
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
Elantris, Brandon Sanderson
Fool, Christopher Moore
A Game of Thrones, George RR Martin
Children of the Dark, Jonathan Janz

All of these had something that stuck with me long after I'd closed the cover on them, and had nearly demanded I re-read them periodically just to remind myself why I enjoyed them so much to start with.