There's a lot of writers I like, each for a different reason. Some writers I admire, others I enjoy, others I idolize. That comes with the territory for any serious writer. I think it was Cormac McCarthy who said once that books exist because of other books, or something like that (worst paraphrase ever). This is a very short list of some of my favorite authors, in no particular order.
Patrick Rothfuss - He's the author of The Name of the Wind, probably one of the most important fantasy books to be released in decades. Definitely check that out. Someone pointed me to an interview with an online interview with Pat, and he seems like a really cool guy. Check it out here.
Dan Simmons - Strangely enough, I was introduced to Dan Simmons by his newest release, Drood. I read it when it first came out, and I simultaneously admire, respect and enjoy his work. I read his blog occasionally, and he reads like one extremely intelligent hombre.
George R.R. Martin - Of course, George R.R. Martin usually evokes 'A Song of Ice and Fire', one of the most popular fantasy series ever. There's a good reason for that, and it's definitely one of my favorite. Whereas he might not be as contemporary as Patrick Rothfuss (partly because it's taken so long for book five of ASOIAF to come out), Martin has a veritable army of fans following him, myself included. Some of his past work is truly great too, something commonly overlooked. I'm not a fan of Armageddon Rag, but Fevre Dream and Dying of the Light are amazing, and I enjoyed Nightflyers and his short fiction is enjoyable.
Brian Ruckley - He's only just finished his 'Godless World' trilogy, but he's definitely worth watching. Similar to Martin in many ways when it comes to style and flow of story, maybe represents a shift in fantasy fiction from Goodkind or Brooks or Jordan.
Philip K. Dick - My uncle turned me onto Philip K. Dick a while ago. His prose isn't particularly poetic but his ideas are mind-bending and his execution is flawless. His short fiction is extremely enjoyable. I've only read 'The Man in the High Castle' so far, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Maybe this gives a little insight towards the authors that inspire and influence me. Going into work soon, a Spanish II quiz tomorrow which I'm not prepared for, just (kind of?) finished a first draft of a story. Date with the gf tonight, we're going to kick back and watch 'Throne of Blood'. Pretty excited about that.