There’s a meme going around: “List the first fifteen authors you can think of who’ve influenced you and will always stick with you. Don’t think too long about it; list the first fifteen you can recall in 15 minutes.” I’m adding another condition: Authors I’d read before I turned 15.

In alphabetical order:

Piers Anthony: whose books I devoured by the armful
Jane Austen: for Elizabeth and Darcy
David Eddings: for all of the Belgariad, but mostly for Silk
Norton Juster: who let me love words and numbers
Madeleine L’Engle: for Meg, tesseracts, and fewmets
Ursula LeGuin: for The Wizard of Earthsea trilogy
C.S. Lewis: for giving me hope that I could escape to another world
Anne McCaffrey: who gave me dragonriders and harpers
Robin McKinley: especially The Blue Sword
Michael Moorcock: for Elric, my first anti-hero (along with Raistlin)
Ellen Raskin: for Turtle and the brilliance of The Westing Game
J.R.R. Tolkein: who made me fall for Legolas and all the elves
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: The Sirens of Titan was my first
Weis & Hickman: they made my D&D heart sing
Roger Zelazny: for Amber in all its glory

Folks I thought of after: Mercedes Lackey, Fritz Lieber, Arthur C. Clarke, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Raymond Feist, Janny Wurtz, and Christopher Stasheff.