I grew up an only child in a big old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, Ohio. I had parents that liked to read, and our house was always littered with books and magazines. Figuring out where my love for books came from isn't exactly rocket science.
I still remember vividly some of the books that really made an impact on me when I was a kid. Franklin W. Dixon's Hardy Boys mysteries were huge for me, as were the Three Investigators books and the wonderfully moody The House with the Clock in Its Walls, although whether I was more impressed by John Bellairs' text or Edward Gorey's illustrations is a tough call. I was also an absolute fiend when it came to mythology, ghost stories and cryptozoology. I was the kind of dork who was more than happy to stay in from recess and read, or work on the school newspaper. Thirty-some years on, I still am.
Literature, Genre and Otherwise
I'm a huge sucker for magical realism, slipstream and interstitial fiction. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Jonathan Carroll, Italo Calvino, Louis de Bernieres, Umberto Eco, Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, James Morrow, Michael Chabon, Kelly Link... Any time a truly excellent writer uses fantastic elements to illustrate either sweeping concepts or the nuances of life, I'm interested.
That said, I'm also a fan of really excellent writing and literature in general. Some of my other favorite writers are Thomas Pynchon, Vladimir Nabokov, and Kurt Vonnegut.
Like many writer-designers, I've also enjoyed comics for years. Not so much the Superman/X-Men scene (although there's been a little of that), but more the Sandman/Bone/Hellboy scene. Give me stories about old gods and monsters stumbling around lost in the here and now and I'm a happy man, which is why I'm such a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, Bill Willingham and Mike Mignola. I'm also a big fan of Jeff Smith, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, and occasionally Grant Morrison and Frank Miller.
My attitude towards all writing is simple: make it good, make it smart, and make it fun.