Terry Pratchett is far and away my favourite author. The first book of his I read was Truckers in 1989, at the age of eight. Since that time I have eagerly devoured every new novel that's been released, Discworld or not. 23 years is a long time to continuously read one author, so how did this obsession develop and how has he influenced me as a writer?
So there's the fact that his books are story-based with characters who have human foibles like greed, cowardice, idealism and bigotry. What may be less well known is that his stories address issues such as racism, warfare and capitalism, by using his world to mirror our own. Except on the Discworld it's refracted in issues such as "speciesism" with minority groups such as vampires trying to fit in and be accepted in society.
Another key thing in the books is Terry's razor-sharp wit; his comic timing, in dialogue particularly, is genius. And there are constant references to movies, books, myths and customs that exist on our world. I don't think anyone could catch them all, but if one passes you by then it won't make any difference to the story.
In terms of influence, I don't think what I write is similar to his stuff, but I'm definitely inspired by his ability as a storyteller and the richness of his work, and I would love to be able to produce something that was on that level.
I could go on and on, but instead I'll just recommend, if you've never read any of his books, to go to his Goodreads page and give one a go. You could choose based on the title or cover, if you like; they're all good. Just one, for me? Pretty please? :)
Do you like Terry Pratchett? Any other "P" authors to recommend?