Major influence: reading. I read fiction, in the main, and prefer fantasy, science fiction, crime/detecting novels and historical novels from the origin of man forwards.
I have always written as far back as I can remember. The headmaster of my high school told me, after I had left, he always expected me to be a writer - so it goes back at least that far. And I have always been an amateur actor. It is this which helps me when I am writing to "be there" in the world I am creating.
My working life began with a commission in the RAF and ended as a civilian unit commander with the City of Miami police. In between I worked as a counsellor, in personnel management, for a major weekly magazine in London, and even as a travel agent when I first came to New York.