My family was friendly with the Faulkners of Oxford, Mississippi, and William Faulkner's daughter Jill babysat me as a toddler. Not much literary genius rubbed off then, but it prompted me in later life to read and appreciate Faulkner. One thing in particular jumped out at me; much of what I read I had heard before, as stories about our and other families. It makes me wonder to this day where, exactly, "A Rose For Emily" came from. It also made me realize that fiction can be based on fact in order to explore intangible truths, but, on the other hand, should never be confused with fact.
Since then everything I've read has influenced me in one way or another.