Fun! Okay, after much deliberation, here are mine (boy, this is a hard choice!):
I'd have to pick two classic authors, and two modern. The reason for my classic choices would be to pick their brains, ask them questions about their process and their lives - the details I know, and the ones I don't know! My modern choices would be to thank them for being such an amazing influence on me, as a writer - as well as to grill them about their own writing process:
1) Shakespeare - I'd want to know about the Authorship Question, first of all (was it he, or was it Marlowe, or someone else, who wrote his brilliant works?). Then, trusting he'd told me the truth and it really WAS he who wrote them, lol - I'd probably pick his brain about the plot details of Othello, because I know it best. Finally, I'd ask for his help with The Tempest, which I'm forced to teach this coming semester. lol
2) Jane Austen - okay, this is cheating, but I'd like to go BACK IN TIME and spend a day with her - meet her family, her friends, see her beautiful family homes and the Bath countryside. Then, yes, I'd pry and ask her about the rumored love affair with Tom LeFroy as offered in the movie Becoming Jane. I'd love to know the extent of that love story!
3) Anne Tyler - I'd probably just want to sit and listen to her talk all day. The way she strings sentences together in her novels, the way her mind works, is fascinating to me. I think she's brilliant.
4) Elizabeth Berg - I'd love to thank her for writing a book I've assigned in my Creative Writing classes - Escaping Into the Open. Then, I'd ask about her writing process. If there's anyone out there who's able to marry commercial and literary fiction, I think it's her. She takes the interesting plots of commercial fiction and ties them with rich language that belongs in literary fiction. (I just started reading her new book last night, in fact - The Last Time I Saw You)
5) (okay, so I cheated again...5 authors instead of 4) L. M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon, which changed my life, as a reader/writer. Emily, a fictional character, might even be the reason I'm a writer at all. I fell in love with her stories as a child - and, Emily herself was a writer, which seemed so artsy, so glamorous and wonderful. I'd love to spend an afternoon with the author, thanking her and asking her how she came up with these unforgettable characters.
Your turn! I'd love to hear your choices!