Charmaine Hammond, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is a highly sought-after business keynote and workshop speaker, entrepreneur, author and educator who teaches and advocates the importance of developing trust, healthy relationships and collaboration in the workplace. She has helped clients in many industries build resilient and engaged workplaces, develop high trust/high accountability relationships, and solve workplace issues that get in the way of success and profitability. She is respected as a “no fluff” and “rich content” speaker who delivers tangible tools to step into action immediately. Charmaine is a Certified Virtual Presenter (eSpeakers). She is also an Executive Producer of the Back Home Again movie, released fall 2021.

This former Correctional Officer (yup! She worked in jails) and Corporate Dispute Resolution Expert now travels the world teaching the principles of collaboration, communication/conflict resolution and resilience. She also has an extensive background facilitating process to help collaborations when they go sideways. As a former mediator she has helped facilitate some of the most complex collaborations and partnership arrangements.

Her corporate clients have included all 3 levels of government, oil and gas sector, trade associations and companies (health, nursing, engineering, safety, and more), technology businesses, human resources, community partnership departments, educational institutions, police/fire and rescue, non profit organizations and everything in between. She has presented to more than 300,000 people worldwide. Her extensive background in the corporate, small business and non profit worlds, her past role as a contract negotiation specialist for government, and a business owner, she has an interesting perspective of being on all sides of the collaboration table. She has owned several businesses over the past 21 years.

She has a Master’s Degree in Conflict Management & Analysis is a bestselling author (of 5 books & featured in 6 others), and CSP™ Certified Speaking Professional. Charmaine has been featured in renowned publications such as Inc., Occupational Health & Safety Magazine, and many others, as well as having appeared as a guest on numerous TV and Radio Programs.

1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me!  When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?

In 2009 I wrote my first published story, published in Chicken Soup for the Soul What I Learned from the Dog. Since that time, I have been published a second time in another Chicken Soup for the Soul book along with 5 of my own traditionally published books and am featured in 11 others. I think my calling to write started long before that, perhaps in elementary school when I received a little diary for Christmas. As a teenager I used to write poetry and I always loved to read.

2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you? 

On Toby’s Terms is a memoir about my dog Toby, a dog who taught me some important life lessons and how to be a better human. The book is about our journey with this rescue dog (who really rescued us).   GPS Your Best Life is a personal development book that I wrote with Debra Kasowski, this book was created to help women live their best life. In our book, GPS stands for Get Positioned for Success. I have two children’s books about Toby the dog, and a third in the series coming out this spring.

All my books are available on Amazon.

My career started out in the jail system; I was a Correctional Officer. When I left that role, I went back to school and graduated with a degree in Social Development Studies and a diploma in social work.  I worked in the mental health system and then pursued my Master’s Degree in Conflict Analysis & Management. My next step was getting certified as a mediator, opening up my own business and I have been in business for myself for the past 25 years.  While I am no longer a mediator, I teach the skills of conflict resolution, collaboration and resilience around the world as a professional speaker and trainer.

I am an Executive Producer of an award-winning animated movie, Back Home Again that features an all-star voice cast including Catherine O’Hara, Michael J. Fox, Eugene Levy, Kim Basinger, Howie Mandel, Mena Suvari, to name a few of many. The movie was created to be a conversation starter about hope, community and mental health.

3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?

My inspiration mainly comes from real life. Experiences, people and places inspire my creativity and storytelling. The characters in my stories are real people so in one way I suppose that makes weaving together the stories and characters a little easier.

4) Do you have a schedule for when you write?  Do you outline your novels?  How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?  What projects are you currently working on?

I write when I am inspired, which can sometimes slow down the process because life and business can be a priority so writing takes a back seat. Somehow it all works out.   I am now getting ready to launch Toby and His Forever Family this spring, along with a book for my corporate clients and speaking audiences, this book is called Working Better Together.

5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally?  Who is your favorite author to read?  What book are you currently reading?  

There are so many books I loved as a child such as Stuart White, Charlotte’s Web, the Peter Rabbit series, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and the list goes on.  As an adult I enjoy Maive Binchy books, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Tuesdays with Morrie and have read these all several times. I also enjoy how to books that I use for business … and in that category I have many favorite writers.

6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?

My books have all won different awards which is an honor and an achievement. I think my biggest achievement was watching someone read my book on an airplane (I didn’t know the person), and an email from a person (teenager) who read my book and said she was inspired to be a writer and was releasing her first book.

7) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature? How hard has it been (or easy) for you to build up your author platform?

I love the business side of being an author, so much so that I have a business where we help authors with making their book a business, planning successful and profitable virtual and in person book tours, and launching (books) for results.  I frequently speak to author groups and mentor authors on the business of books.

8) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself after it’s out there for the rest of the world?

At first, I found reading my own book a strange feeling, however I recently read On Toby’s Terms again and it was a great walk down memory lane.

9) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry?  Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?

I say it’s never too late to become a writer… it saddens me when stories are left untold. Stories connect people, stories can help people heal, they educate and inform and challenge our thinking and ways in which we see the world. I come from a family of amazing storytellers, one whose stories need to be told and if not written down at least shared verbally for years to come.