A few days ago I read about Gonzalo Barr, author of _The Last Flight of Jose Luis Balboa_, a collection of stories, which won the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Bakeless Prize in 2005. He's such an inspiration to all writers who came late to the game--he started writing seriously in 2000 and just quit his job as a lawyer in December of 2007 to become a full-time write at age 49. I read about him in the Miami Herald and his story really resonated with me. I emailed him and he emailed back almost immediately!
What a nice guy--he says his inspiration came from a nun who gave him a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's _Slaughterhouse Five_ and he was also grateful to a librarian who let him sneak into the library and read all afternoon.