Willa Cather, Margaret Mitchell, Nancy Zaroulis, Sara Bradford, Christopher Anderson
Among contemporary writers, Jack McDevitt and Peter Hamilton construct wonderfully convoluted plots. Stephen Crane and Herman Melville impressed me most with their ability to create characters so powerful that the plot became secondary.
I admire so many authors it's hard to narrow them down to a few favorites. I love Sue Monk Kidd, Stephan King, Dorthea Benton Frank, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Michael Connelly, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, Marion Woodman, Joel Goldsmith, and Patricia Cornwell, to name a few.
Tom Clancey, Samuel Clemens, Jim Harrison... Every good writer writes something lousy; no one is good every time, but writers who try hard and take a personal interest in their work are more consistently readable.
I have a long list. For science fiction, James Schmitz for starters, because when I first started reading science fiction he was one of the few with strong female characters. Andre Norton's books got me interested in writing about outsiders as the main character. James White and C.J. Cherryh, for fantastic aliens. Janet Kagan for great characters and cultures. Eric Frank Russell, for the humor. Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, for combining great characters, cultures and adding in a dash of humor. Michelle Levigne for a great series of YA science fiction.
For fantasy, Tolkien was a major influence on me. I seek out anything Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones, Sherwood Smith and Diane Duane write because I love the way they create characters and worlds. And I'm thankful for J. K. Rowlings for getting people interested in young adult fantasy again.
There are far too many to list, however, some that spring to mind are Jodi Picoult, Sandra Brown, Sue Grafton, Dianna Love Snell, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Wendell Berry, Tess Gerritsen, and Anita Shreve
For fiction enjoyment, I love reading Tom Clancy, Patterson, Grisham, and many more.
For impact I love reading biographies that express the vulnerable side of the individual.
The short list: Jonathan Franzen, Ian McEwan, Michael Chabon, The Vikrams (Chandra and Seth), Jane Smiley, Alice Munro.
In genre fiction, Michael Connelly, Stephen Hunter, Thomas Perry
My favorite author is Stephen King. He is one of the best at grabbing a reader on an emotional level. He is truly gifted in that respect.
I also enjoy Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike and William Faulkner.
Edgar Allen Poe; Kurt Vonnegut; Stephen King
Larry McMurtry amazes me with his characters, plot and dialog. Cormac McCarthy holds me spellbound. William Kent Krueger is one of my new favorites. I grew up reading the work of Janice Holt Giles who wrote historical fiction about Kentucky and the westward expansion. I love the work of Leon Uris and Herman Wouk. I enjoy Anne Lamott's humor, Annie Proulx's short stories, and Ted Kooser's poetry.
Maritta Wolff -Maggie Smith
John Ashbery, Octavio Paz, Leonard Cohen, Nelly Sachs, Gloria Naylor, Willa Cather, and lots of others.
Oh, this is a trick question. Too many. James Mitchiner, Herman Wouk, Leon Uris, and hundreds more. Ideas, knowledge, delivery - that's what I admire most.