Fantasy (and the possibilities therein) is easily my favorite genre. My obsession began when I was nine years old and my uncle lent me The Hobbit and The Lord of Rings.I don't think I have any one favorite author - just lots of "favorites." These would include Stephen R. Donaldson, Mercedes Lackey, David Drake, David Gemmell, and so many more . . .
Personally, I would add Roger Zelazny, but apparently many fans consider his work sci-fi. I do understand why they feel this way, because the "shadows" of Amber are remarkably similar to the many worlds theory in quantum physics (all possible universes exist along the probability wave of the real universe). But I think of it as a classic example of genre blending, and therefore I think Zelazny was a master of mixing science fiction with fantasy.
Of course, as I grew older I knew I wanted to write fantasy, but I wanted to do things that stretched the conventions set by Tolkien. In fact, I would have to cite Zelazny as one of my influences here, because what I like the most is genre blending. I like to read and write stories that mix some conventions of science fiction, horror, and even romance (don't laugh - I'll admit it's not at the top of my list but I might give it shot one day) with fantasy. Some of these sub-genres include dark fantasy, romantic fantasy, superhero fantasy, future fantasy, science fiction and fantasy and science fantasy.