Being an English graduate, I cut my teeth on all the classics and still have them all lurking on my bookshelf. I love words, providing they're well put together, and generally read anything and everything I can lay my hands on - unless it's just plain trashy, of course, which I can usually pick up in the first page!! That aside, I enjoy any genre, but I'm not sure that I'm seriously influenced by any single one, or by any single author.
I write from what's "inside" and let the story tell itself. My characters create themselves, too, and it's their story that I tell rather than my own. Having said that, I suppose any author must tap in to their own experience to a large degree, but I don't think my work is necessarily autobiographical in any real sense - I think my own experience, and what I've learned along the way, perhaps help me to "tune in" to the characters and understand where they are, and why they react the way they do.
I write because I have to write. It was programed into me at birth. Like breathing, it just is. I'm fascinated by the layers in people, the differences and the inherent "stuff" that makes them who they are, and determines how they react to others and situations they encounter. And, romantic that I am (that's why I write Romance!), I love happy endings...