I hate this topic; I hate this question even when applied more broadly; and it’s not that I don’t have favorite authors; and it’s not that I can’t think of them at the sodding moment [although that’s a frequent embarrassment]; but I know that I’m a terrible liar, and any companions would be bored with the truth.
Whenever I’m bidden to discuss my favorite authors, I’m assuredly indicted in my writing. “Why do you write this, Robert? Why do you write this when you can hardly be considered to read this?”
It could be my own indictment of the modern publishing industry; it could be my own indictment of contemporary writers; the answer could well answer why it’s so damn hard to make a buck in this industry. Science fiction and fantasy only become really popular when they dance before screens both big and small, never just characters on a page.
I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy when I was a kid. Mostly I was inspired by my father, who in his late teens and vigor at college had consumed the pages of Herbert and Tolkien, Lovecraft and Howard–alongside a probably unhealthy obsession with Zapp Comics. I just read what he read, aside from Zapp comics, but when I began developing my own reading tastes, it rather began with the likes of Gogol and Bulgakov and carried through strangely to Homer and Virgil. I liked the dark, the strange, the bizarre, but I also adored sweeping scenes of battle. If anything of my original canon, I retained Lovecraft and Howard the best, who really formed the motivation in me to write, even if I would say that Homer was always my greatest influence.
I might be asked why I don’t write in hexameters and why I decided to write science fiction and fantasy after all of that. Truth is, I consider them functionally the same genre, but more importantly–I can’t help wanting to.