Following a fall from a ladder while putting up Christmas decorations, thoughts of losing her legs or at least never walking again were prominent in Hammonds' mind during the dark winter days of 1993.
Through numerous surgeries and countless hours of rehabilitation, Hammonds found the time to produce "Truth or Dare," a 400-page novel that tackles the criminal justice system, the church and the family institution.
"I had never been in the hospital before, except to have my children," she said. "The fact that I couldn't move at all was something new to me. They almost had to re-connect my feet. But I always thought I'd walk again, it was just a matter of when."
In "Truth," River Bryyst is a criminologist and contract analyst for the FBI's Special Investigation Unit, seeking to uncover an illegal network that provides new identities for fugitive drug traffickers.
"Little girl from a small town goes to the big city and is coming to terms with the small town girl in a big world," Hammonds said. "She's still growing into this new lifestyle."
In her first case, Bryyst brings a mentor agent, Sandefer Moran, to trial. Thus begins an investigation marked by mistaken identity, conspiracy and unbelievable circumstances.
Hammond's design for the cover of the book shows a pair of eyes peering into and searching for truth amid evil forces everywhere.
"That was probably cover number 15," she said. "The mask is about how we remove a layer of personality as you go through the book and through life. She (Bryyst) had a chance to ignore or look closer at her mentor, who was one of the biggest cases. Later there comes a time when even she wonders if she could become like her mentor. There are a lot of people with ulterior motives, waiting to attack when they see good people."
She says the title is "about what people do through manipulation, and the fact that they can be manipulating you and you won't even know it."
Hammonds' theory is that man is inherently evil. In "Truth," she reinforces the fact that everyone has a dark side.
"I felt like River Bryyst when I first got back to Lumberton," she said. "Some of my experiences told me I should not be too trusting. I always believed people were good but that's really not always the case. I'm a bit skeptical right now, realizing I have to deal with people on an individual basis."
Hammonds, who graduated from Lumberton High in 1969, is a retired planner who worked in the criminal justice system in New Jersey. She earned a master's degree from Rutgers University and is pursuing a doctorate in psychology. She was working for the federal government when the accident forced her to make a career switch.
"Truth" takes readers on Bryyst's path from Russian communism to the streets of Newark, N.J. to the Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach, S.C. to Fort Bragg to the fictitious town of Windsor Springs, N.C.
In a town like Windsor Springs, Bryyst finds there are no secrets.
The uncanny timing of some of her events in "Truth" comes out looking like foresight into the unknown. She weaves plots of terrorists, bombs, the aftermath of tragedy and following of money trails into many chapters. She took it to publication in May 2001.
Hammonds is the daughter of the late Sam and Ola Smith Hammonds. She has two adult children and a granddaughter. She is writing her second novel "Tea with Brie." She has finished the first version and is "letting it marinate" before returning for another edit.
Her writing began in poetry form. Her first book was "The Beauty of Life."
Hammonds is a member of the American Association of University Women and National Association of Female Executives. She puts women in the forefront of her writing: How they deal with power, money and the truth; how they are treated by men; how they learn that loyalty to church, career and family have a price.
"Truth or Dare" is available at Waldenbooks in the Biggs Park Mall, at Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million in Fayetteville or on line at www.barbarahammonds.com.