Background? I could write a book ...
But, seriously, I grew up with the bomb and polio as terrors waiting just over the horizon. At some point, the 1960s happened to me--which is to say that I discovered Pete Seegar, Cardinal Richlieu, James Bond, Dylan, the Space Race, and other elements of the times all at once. Played in rock bands, made abortive attempts to write worthwhile material (wasn't published until the 1970s), became a loner, and generally had bad and good times, pretty much like everyone else.
Major influences? Too many, but a short list includes Robert A. Heinlein, Mary Alice (Andre) Norton, James Joyce, G. Harry Stine, Mack Reynolds, Larry Niven, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sally Rand (yes, THAT one, the fan dancer), Burton G. Gabriel (a fine editor at S&S), Manly Wade Wellman, Keith Monroe, Jack Finney, Jules Verne, E.M. Forrester, and a bunch more. (I have been fortunate to have met most of those folks.)