On the Wyrdsmith's blog there's a discussion going on now about which authors influenced the writers. I thought I would give it a go. Here they are, in semi-cronological order:
Laura Ingalls Wilder
The various authors of Choose-your-own-Adventure books. I don't remember anyone specific, but I loved those books.
The Encyclopedia Brown books
Judy Bloom (what self-respecting girl would leave her off the list?)
Phyllis A. Whitney
Edgar Allen Poe
Stephen King (he's one of the bigger influences, I'll admit)
Robert Jordan (I know, I know, but I can't help it. Just because he's dragged the story on for six books too long doesn't mean he didn't create a kick-ass world.)
What's the common thread with these authors? Off the top of my head, I think Danziger, Bloom, King, Rowling and Brust write characters you want to give a damn about, while Whitney, Christie, Poe, and Jordan weave a fine tale. Not that King's storytelling is lacking or Jordan's characters suck, but this is what sticks in my head when I think of these authors. Mostly, they entertained me/scared me/made me think, and that's why they resonate with me. Ah, to do that for somebody else. Someday.