I grew up on science fiction and fantasy. So much of my writing is informed by Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Orson Scott Card. The three laws, exploration of new worlds, and ethical challenges are central to my early science fiction reading days. I was equally inspired by the cinematic genius of Star Trek, Star Wars, and V.
As a late reader, the first novel I ever loved was DRAGONLANCE: DRAGONS OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT, a story that built a unique world for and with Dungeons & Dragons. As a big fan of D&D, the band of characters of different races inspired me to think more broadly about my story development and character development. Without this book, I don't know when I would have learned to enjoy reading. I am eternally grateful for Weis and Hickman.
A few years ago, I found Alanson's series, EXPEDITIONARY FORCE, which blends hardcore Sci-Fi with Comedy. I've listened to this 15+ book series, plus side stories, three times. Yeah, I know. I rarely read any books three times, not to mention a series that long. Alanson has a huge following among the nerds who know. It's not surprising that AL, the sardonic AI in DAY AFTER INFINITY, has some similarities to his slaptastic AI Skippy.
The incomparable R.C. Bray performs Joe Bishop, Skippy, and the rest of the crew so brilliantly that you can't separate his narrative from the writing. The collaboration between author and narrator grows tighter and tighter throughout the series.
He is perhaps one of the brightest minds in the game today. His novel, WE ARE LEGION (WE ARE BOB), is brilliantly executed. Many aspects of my novel, DAY AFTER INFINITY, follow aspects of Taylor's universe building. While Alanson excels at slapstick humor
In the zombie book, MOUNTAIN MAN, the main character is not what one imagines a hero should be. He's drunk and doesn't give a crap about anyone or anything. He drinks and survives. Long live Captain Morgan. Yet, you love him by the end of his ordeal of battling zombies and the living.
Zombies make another appearance in my influences in the form of the ARISEN series, which is one of the most intense story arc I've ever read/listened to. Again, R.C. Bray made a spectacular appearance. I derived some of my militaristic style from James's attention to detail. I've picked up a bit of his style of action scenes and dialogue.
As a die hard nerd, I can't stress how important Crichton was for my development as a person, a reader, and an author. In my teens, his works expanded my appreciation for science, without which I might not have become a scientist, a PhD, or a professor. In my novel, METAL, I approached the science behind weaponized rust in a Crichton-esq style.
As a kid, ENDER'S GAME had as profound of an influence on my view of Sci-Fi as Star Wars. The scope. The connection with this brilliant yet isolated boy struck home when the surprise hit. The follow-up books built on concepts of compassion that helped me as a person, as an author, and as a builder of characters.