This list is not definitive. If there's anything I've learned about myself, it's that my preferences change constantly. Also I'm very bad at remembering what my preferences are.
This list is more than creators who I merely "like." These are creators whose works inspire me to do better.
Kurt Vonnegut: This man is my most recent authorial obsession. I've been on a reading binge of his and desperately need to get my hand on more of his books. There are several elements to Kurt's style which I love. The simple, no-nonsense frills of his prose for one. He is the epitome of a writer who leaves in only the necessary details. On top of that solid foundation, he has a keen insight on human nature and a willingness to play with form in ways that are both intellectually and emotionally powerful. The fact that he can pull off writing such a disjointed and outlandish style in Slaughterhouse Five is something to take note of.
Haruki Murakami: A Japanese novelist writing magical realism. Sort of. I admire the freedom of his writing, how playful it is. His works can go anywhere. I mean that very literally. The novels of his I've read can be wondrously fantastical one moment and deeply horrific the next without giving me narrative whiplash.
Sarah Kane: Again, very simple in the way she writes, but so so deceptively so. Each sentence she writes is worth several more in subtext. She's penned some of the best dialogue and stage directions of all time. She also does not hold the fuck back. She cuts to the bone to tell stories that are so raw and dark, yet weirdly beautiful. Not everyone will love her like I do, but that doesn't matter. Kane doesn't censor herself and goes into the darkest depths of the soul without being wangsty.
Chuck Palahniuk: There is precisely one thing I will admit to shamelessly swiping from Chuck: his "choruses." He likes to use specific phrases and repeat them throughout a story. The repetition, I find, very affecting. Other writers do this too, but he does it the best.
Terry Pratchett: You know, I avoided reading Pratchett for a long time and that was a huge mistake. I was under the impression that because he writes humorous fantasy that means it lacks substance. I was so very wrong. There is much to love about his writing, but the things I actively aim to ape from him are thus: humor with a heart, and creating a world where I can tell any story I could possibly want to tell as he did with Discworld.
This post went on substantially longer than I thought it would. I've come to realize just how much other writers influence me - and just how many. I figure these folks are the heavy hitters and I can throw some honorable mentions below.
There are two common threads amongst these creators I've noticed - simplicity and playfulness. Those are, I suppose, the two pillars I hold up the most when it comes to my own work.
Honorable Mentions: Neil Gaiman, Philip K Dick, David Wong, Sarah Ruhl, Brian K Vaughn, Johnen Vsquez, Stephen King and likely several others who I'm forgetting about because my memory is shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
Any creators you shamelessly thieve from? Comment or some shit. I'm always looking for more to pilfer.