I was wondering what you think when a potential client likes an author who you dislike. I'd heard the author of one of my favorite series was kind of a jerk, and after avoiding it for a while, I finally looked further into it.
Oh boy. It's bad. Real bad. In an interview they essentially insulted their entire genre, authors and fans alike. Many years later, they tried to correct themselves, but still came off as extremely arrogant. Other research also indicated the author is hard to work with. There's another issue: the writing isn't great. Especially with books later in the series. There are these huge, pages long monologues about philosophy that get in the way of the story.
While I recognize all of this, the series was still a major influence on me. So I'm wondering if you like someone's manuscript, and then they say Author Terrible was one of their biggest influences, would that be a red flag? I know it's hard for us to know an author is a jerk when we pick up a book. But even still, I could see how it might make an agent pause and go "Uh oh, if they are anything like Mr. Terrible, we are going to have some issues."
I love the fresh and new ways you devise to torture yourself!
Honestly, I hope you query me one day cause you've really got a gift for inventing things.
For starters, stop worrying. If you list Attila the Hun as one of your seminal influences I don't care one way or another. I have a few blackguards in my reading past as well (Robert Heinlein anyone? Mickey Spillane?)
If you can't stop worrying, just don't mention this in the query. Truthfully I don't care who your influences are. I care about what you wrote.
All of us develop more sophisticated reading tastes as we go through life (I hope). It can give rise to those lovely self-tortures of watching a movie or reading a book you loved as a kid/teen and thinking "Holy Helvetica, what was I thinking?"
Well, you were thinking like a kid/teen, and hopefully now you are not.
I won't judge you by the costume you chose for your fifth grade school photo, if you won't judge my hairdo for any or all of my four years of high school.
You are not what you read. You are what you write.