Jonathan Raban, Bernard Cornwell, Ken Follett, Terry Pratchett as well as the ones I mentioned above.
Dame Stella Rimington and John le Carre.
Terry Pratchett, Ian Flemming, Agatha Christie, J T Edson, Isaac Asimov, Philip K Dick
Writers who have never given up and not found it particularly easy to get their writign done and accepted by agents/publishers...the life stories of authors like JK Rowling and David Gemmell can inspire anyone to believe what is possible.
Steven King, What an imagination, keep on knocking them out Stevie!.
Howard Spring, RF Delderfield, Nevil Shute, Charles Dickens, Lee Child, Mark Billingham, Stephen King, Jeffery Deaver.
Raymond Carver, Jonathan Safran Foer, Simon Armitage, Dave Gorman, Jon Ronson, Tobias Hill.
Joseph O'Connor, Anne Donovan, Tim Moore, Clive James, Christopher Brookmyre, Roddy Doyle.
I'm perhaps a little predictable here. I go through phases. I loved Kafka when I found him because he was so wierd and I was quite young. Herman Hesse I devoured because I was a young man. Kundera, because he was clever and made me think. David Mitchell because he's clever too, in a sort of blunt way, but he's also great to read paragraph by paragraph. Tolkein because he kept me up all night. Pullman for the same reason. Then there's just hundreds of good books I've not been able to put down and probably (sad as it feels) can't even remember. Life in a Matchbox? Was that it's name? Pirsig had me hooked for a few years with his motorcycles too.
Robert Burns and Shakespeare
Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, John Radford, Clive Coates, Tim Atkin, Roddy Doyle, Paul Theroux, Gerald Durrell, Terry Pratchett, Robert Burns, Alasdair Gray, Ian Rankin,
W Somerset Maughan, DH Lawrence, Victor Hugo, John Fowles, Sebastian Faulks, Oscar Wilde, Edna O'Brian.
My favourite poets - WH Auden, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Walter de la Mare, Tennyson.
Irving Welsh, Ray Bradbury, lots of older short story writers like O Henry, Frank O'Connor and Raymond Carver, Larry McMurtry, A J Cronin, Daniel Keyes, Kurt Vonnegut, Clifford Simak... lots of others.
Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell for their astonishing clarity. Bradbury, Ellison and Barker for their beautiful imagery, and Phillip k Dick for his staggering ideas and originality.
I admire too many writers to make a list here. I started reading Evelyn Waugh when I was young and if I dip into his novels today, am amazed how well they have travelled: they haven't dated at all but feel contemporary. Diana Hammond is an original and beautiful writer. I just re-read her novel "The Impersonator" the other day. A classic.