My first attempt at writing was in the third grade. Our teacher had us take the list of spelling words for that week and write a story using those words. Much to my teacher's chagrin I elected to write something befitting "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (that was one of my favorite TV shows back in the day). She told my parents the story was certainly imaginative, but a bit too gruesome for the other third graders.
Eventually, after a few aborted attempts at writing short stories, I gravitated to screenwriting (I hold an MFA in screenwriting). The idea of writing a book was simply too overwhelming, too intimidating. Oddly enough, when I finally worked up the audacity to write a book, it turned out to be a non-fiction piece dealing with religion.
Insofar as "major influences" are concerned, there are none. The only positive influence has been good writing, in whatever form it may take.
I truly admire a good wordsmith.