The best influence is life experience, but it doesn't hurt to have a vivid imagination and to be a little crazy. That about sums up my writing chops.
I have always had a flair for the artistic and the dramatic. Oh yes, I am a bit of a drama queen. If I had a nickel for every time I created a "bio" for some stranger I might have happened upon while walking, riding, or having a cup of coffee in a coffee house, I'd probably be rather wealthy by now.
Of course, everybody always told me to "write that book," mostly after I would read parts and paragraphs of events from my past that I had written, or embellishments from the many people living in that vast, open, and inescapable imagination of mine. Then when I created the folder, "Book Files" on my computer, characters emerged; personalities with thoughts and feelings, and imaginations of their own had a place to live outside of my mind. Stories, some mine, and some not, were weaved and then inextricably tied together, giving each life, depth and purpose.
Finally, all that had to be done was get it published.