The first word I remember learning as a child was "eavesdrop" and whether I'm writing a novel or non-fiction, it all comes from a blend of memory and imagination. People often ask what it was like to have my first novel, "Mermaids," made into a movie with Cher, Winona Ryder, Bob Hoskins and Christina Ricci. It was remarkable, and perhaps the experience was magnified because I spent so many years working on that book.

I worked at a magazine, a book publisher, the A&E Television Network and a movie company before I turned to teaching and haven't stopped since. I have never ceased to be excited by my students' work. Teaching fuels my writing and my writing is what guides my teaching.

Dann's next book, "The Butterfly Hours: From Memory to Memoir" will be published in Aug. 2016