Writers on Facebook have recently been posting lists of the 15 authors who most influenced them.
Frankly, I think their number is too few. We're influenced by everything we read. We absorb all these influences, accepting some, rejecting others, until they coalesce into our peculiar style.
Robert Louis Stevenson suggests, "When you read a book or passage that pleases you, sit down at once and try to ape that quality which most pleases you."
No, Herkimer, that doesn't mean you should write like the writers you admire. I can write a pastiche of Hemingway. But I'm not Hemingway. You pick up bits and pieces of technique from other writers, then you make them yours.
Okay. You want to know who I'd put on my list of fifteen. I'm sure there were many more, but here's my list (in no particular order):
1.Edgar Allen Poe
9.John Dickson Carr
10.Arthur Conan Doyle
12.Robert Louis Stevenson