I write to keep myself sane. If I kept all the characters talking in my head bottled up, someday they would stage a coup. Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but it's also true.
Influences -- that's tough. There are so many, which may be why I write different types of fiction (romantic comedy and urban fantasy). Mary Stewart is one of the all-time greatest writers in the world and I can't even aspire to say you'll find any commonality in our writing. I love, in no particular order, Janet Evanovich, Susan Anderson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Aaron Elkins, Jude Devereaux, Rex Stout, Laurell K. Hamilton, Sharyn McCrumb...the list could go on forever.