This is a fantastic topic because we all learn from each other. I find myself picking up inspired thoughts and ways of doing things from reading so many other authors. And on rare occasion I think someone even learns something from me. It could be what not to do - but its still a lesson.
I've said in the past how several great authors have taken the time to talk with me about writing I think I learned something fantastic from each of them.
Steve Berry sat down with me and we talked extensively about the actual writing - not the plot or the story or the characters - so much of that is subjective but the actual way those things go down on the page - it was a revelation and he's brilliant at creating gripping prose in the most clear and concise way.
Linwood Barclay and I had a long conversation about suspense from which I came away with the realization that a book is more about what's looming in the future than what is happening right now on the page. I think its genius.
Another brilliant author who I've been fortunate enough to talk with is Clive Cussler. He's a genius at combining historical fact and present day fiction, and he has a way of connecting with readers that is unlike anything I've seen elsewhere.
I've learned something from every member of this blog and from countless others I've met at conferences, but what about those we can't meet.
Michael Crichton was and is one of my all time favorites. I love including science in my books as he did, but I'm well aware that I only gloss the surface of what he was able to do so well. Would have loved to take a class from him and get some insight and talk writing with him.
Herman Melville - Moby Dick is such a powerful story, not just because the whale is an unstoppable force of nature - a brilliant and prescient forerunner to almost all thrillers ever written, but because he created such a deep story around this force of nature - all the characters are revealed in their quest for the whale, and I can only imagine what secrets and fun would be had talking with him.
William Shakespeare - not just because I want to ask him why everyone always dies in the end of his stuff, but because I would love to speak with a man who changed the world with his words. In the end that's something we're all trying to do, if just a little bit. I wonder did he know what he was onto, did he sense the growing power, or was he just trying to pay the bills?
Of course there are hundreds of others, but these three would top my list for sure.