Author: Douglas Adams
Age: 27

The story of Douglas Adams's inspiration for his must-read masterwork is much funnier than most on this list. Adams came up with the idea for The Hitchhiker's Guide while bumming through Europe with a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe in tow. One night, Adams found himself drunk in a field in Austria, staring up at the stars, and was struck by inspiration. This inspiration led first to a series of radio plays, then to novels, and ultimately to stage plays, films, and merchandising.

Adams was not without creative frustrations, as he was never able to turn anything in on time. He credits others for forcing him to overcome his trouble with deadlines. On one occasion his editor went as far as to lock him in his hotel room until he finished a manuscript. Of deadlines, he famously said, "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."