When I read your question a name popped instantly into my mind. There are many authors of the past who have influenced me in positive ways yet the first name that came to me is a contemporary.
I can say, without a doubt, that Randy Godwin is the author who has inspired me more than any other.
When I read one of Randy's fiction stories it draws me into a place where I feel a part of the life of his characters, as if I know them personally. His style of writing stirs so many emotions within me and inspires me to write my own stories. I am always left with deep emotions and deep respect for Randy Godwin's divine gift of talent as a writer. He is truly blessed.