It is wonderful when heroes from childhood turn out to be even better than you knew. Vis. Ursula Le Guin – her Earthsea books and later, The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, and later still, Always Coming Home – mind opening, beautifully written. And she is still an inspiration. Listen to this BBC Radio 4 interview.
And another influence that seems to have been more powerful than I realised: One of the books I looked at over and over again when I was at primary school was a Ladybird book, The Story of Joseph. I loved it mainly for the illustrations, and the colours and forms of the drapery stuck with me more than the story. They seemed so three-dimensional. The anatomy probably had an effect too.