What or who has been the biggest influence in your writing and why?
Wow! That's kind of a loaded question. There isn't one, specific person or thing that's influenced my writing. Reading would have to be the first of the "what." I love to read. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was my dad who led me to read by sharing his love of books. I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading or at least looking at pictures in a Little Golden Book.
Reading, of course, led to favorite books and authors. I read the Trixie Belden series, while others were reading Nancy Drew. I cut my romance reading teeth in high school with Georgette Heyer, then the classics (Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and others). Stephen King hooked me immediately, beginning with Carrie, although I haven't read his books for several years. My favorite contemporary romance books are by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but there far too many others to list. All of those books and authors have influenced my life in ways I will probably never know.
Then there are the people in my life. My best friend from age 12 led me back to reading romance in the early '90s, which in turn tempted me to try to write. Everyone I've met since 1996, when I joined RWA and WARA, have influenced me in some way, and that especially includes the members of WARA. Along the way, I met others, and if it hadn't been for authors Kathie DeNosky and Janet Barton, I would have given up and thrown in the towel, long before I sold my first book.
While it may take a whole village to raise a child, it definitely takes a whole lifetime of whos and whats to create a writer. It may be a lonely profession, but the perks are in the books read and written and the friends made along the way. What or who has been the biggest influence in your writing and why? Everything and everyone!