Gill Hoffs contributed her story "The Premature Ending of Annie MacLeod" to the challenge:
I grew up in a small fishing village on the Scottish coast, with tales of lost travellers, witchcraft and shipwrecks. It's hard not to be inspired by a place as rugged and beautiful as that. Exploring further north where there are whole villages of ruins from the Clearances and blackened cooking pots hidden beneath the bracken, I thought about the children lost throughout history, the many names and anonymous babies detailed on surviving gravestones, and the importance of education especially to those in geographically and/or culturally isolated places. The challenge brought all of this fizzing to a head. 'Annie' and 'MacLeod' are names from my husband's side of the family, and when the story 'clicked', I could see her in my mind's eye, and the piece wrote itself from there.
What makes this cause important to you?
Before I had my son, I spent my working life with children who had a diverse range of needs, including ADHD, ASD, and emotional/behavioural problems. Despite their issues, they could be joyous and funny - and I have enormous respect for them. So many children, throughout the world, slip through the systems and struggle with themselves and society. Childhood is confusing enough with a loving, supportive family and good health. It's important to do what you can to help every child find their way through the mixed messages and rules to a happy, healthy adulthood. Charities such as the ones supported by this challenge do just that.
Tell us a bit about yourself and where to find more of your writing.
All I want to do is write. I've won three competitions and been placed in two others, have work included in six anthologies [including this one], online, and in several magazines and journals. For links, please visit my site http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com/ . I'm 32, I live in the North of England, and when I was about 15 I tried to make candles out of plastic explosive - I thought it was a lump of candle wax. Thank goodness we had a soldier over for tea!