When I was young (staring around five) I wanted to read everything my dad read. My father relaxes by reading fantasy and scifi. He has boxes and boxes full of books. The covers were all fascinating.
As a child, I would ask him about the stories he read and he would fold and ear into the book and start telling me about the story he had read so far. Through him I was transported into the worlds of Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein, and countless others.
It frustrated me that I couldn’t read like he could. My schools wanted to assign me children’s book — children’s books! The nerve! I wanted to read like my daddy. His stories sounded cool.
Instead I got stories about kids going about their day to day life at school. Boring!
I tried and tried to read way beyond my level and couldn’t. My first attempt to read Frank Herbert’s Dune went down in flames — I was seven and only got through the first paragraph after an hour of reading and using a dictionary.
My father and I have always been close. As a child, he was my hero. No matter how busy he was assembling some shelf my mother had assigned to him, he would talk to me and listen.
Eventually, hearing his stories created a burning desire inside myself to write my own stories. Never once was I discouraged, he would just ask for more and offer suggestions. My father loved science, and hard science fiction more than anything.
So I came to as well. That was why I studied biochemistry in college. Still my love of fantasy burned just as strong.
Some of my fondest memories are sitting by my dad while he built or repaired a piece of furniture and I told him of the latest story I had come up with. Sometimes I told about starship captains or quests to destroy the Great Evil. Often my main characters were female — simply because I was probably inserting myself into the stories — and he would eagerly listen and ask me to finish the story.
When I was a teenager I discovered Japanese anime and Sailor Moon and DBZ. These were the stories and shows that influenced me as a child and a teenager and even into my college years:
12. Gary Gigax
11. The Simpsons
10. The Shining
9. The Foundation