This is not a question of who is the best author. Nor is it a question of who is the most prolific. Out of all the authors/writers out there, who would you consider to be the most influential writer of all time? What about of our time?
Of ALL time, I would definitely tip my non-existent hat to William Shakespeare as he added over 1,700 words to our language. I would also throw in Edgar Allan Poe for his exploration of horrific and suspenseful ideas.
Of OUR time, I would say Ray Bradbury, for his genius body of work in the speculative fiction genre. Neil Gaiman probably could hop into this category for similar reasons, though I think he’s made more of an impact through his graphic novels. The Sandman, among others, made graphic novels a bit more accessible. (For reasons I don’t understand, people are ashamed to admit they read graphic novels, and others still consider them fluff. I’ve read graphic novels that carry more depth and literary value than some ‘classic literary fiction.’)
J. R. R. Tolkien could also be added to my list. Not only did his writing influence every fantasy work since his time, but he was a great linguist with a wonderful understanding of cultural development and world building.
(Image of Neil Gaiman by Kyle Cassidy under CCL.)