Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Threads in the Writing Tapestry

by Kay DiBianca @KDiBianca

My husband and I had the good fortune to visit the Vatican Galleries in Rome some years ago. One memory I have was standing in front of several enormous tapestries that recorded events from the Gospels. I was astounded at the workmanship that told a story by weaving different color threads onto a background. I wondered if the weavers had used any special thread, maybe a gold or silver one, to highlight each one of his works.

It’s not much of a leap to compare the creation of a colorful, intricate tapestry with a novel. Both tell a story, but each uses a different set of raw materials. I began to think of my own novels as stories woven with individual words that produce a complex whole. 

When I began my Watch series of cozy mysteries, I had not intended to weave certain threads through each of the novels. The main characters, of course, are the foundation around which all the rest of the stories revolve. But I found several other threads made their way through each of the books without my explicitly planning it that way. Here are four of them.

1. I’m a runner, so it’s not surprising that there are running scenes in each book. The first book begins with one of the main characters, Kathryn, training for a marathon. The second novel has the same character injured during a half-marathon, and the third story includes references to running.

2. The other main character in my books, Cece, is an actress, and she loves disguises. In each one of the books, Cece goes into disguise at least once, sometimes with surprising consequences.

3. Each book also contains a chapter describing a Shabbat dinner. As the diners enter into the Sabbath during the meal, something illuminating always happens.

I did not intentionally add those three elements to my series. They just happened to fit well into each story. However, a fourth thread is one that I determined I would add to every book I write:

4. My husband, Frank, coined a word when he invented and patented a medical imaging device which he named the Kinestatic Charge Detector. Although you won’t find the word “kinestatic” in the dictionary, you will always find it used at least once in each of my books. “Kinestatic” means something that is moving (kinetic) in one frame of reference, but still (static) in another. A good example is a runner on a treadmill. The runner is moving with regard to the treadmill, but still in regard to the room. The word can be used to describe so much in life. One example is running around all day doing errands, but feeling like you haven’t accomplished anything.

So these are the threads that keep popping up in my tapestry-novels. I hope they serve as tiny reminders to reassure readers they’re in familiar and comfortable territory.

Do you weave threads through your stories to add a sense of familiarity for your readers?

Kay DiBianca is a former software developer and IT manager who retired to become an award-winning author of cozy mysteries. She loves to create literary puzzles for her readers to solve, and her characters come to life as they struggle to solve murders and create relationships amidst the ongoing themes of faith and family. 


Kay is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and the Collierville Christian Writers Group. She is also a regular contributor to the Kill Zone Blog. An avid runner, she can often be found at a nearby track, on the treadmill, or at a large park near her home. Kay and her husband, Frank, live, run, and write in Memphis, Tennessee. You can connect with Kay through her website at


  1. Interesting thought to compare the themes running through your stories to the threads running through beautiful tapestries. It reminds me of Corrie Ten Boom. She said of tapestries--"the dark threads are as needful as the gold"--(not exact quote). I do like the word you have coined. And wonder when the word you coined takes up a life of its own and goes off and around and eventually will find itself in a dictionary.

    1. Hi Ann. Thanks for commenting. That's a profound quote from Corrie Ten Boom. You reminded me what an amazing woman she was.
      My husband, Frank, and I serendipitously met as assistant to the editor of the OED a couple of decades ago when we were in Oxford. We told her about Frank's word and asked if they would consider it for the OED. She and Frank corresponded about the word, but it wasn't in wide circulation, so they declined to add it. It's a great word, though, and we notice it's been used in other areas, so maybe it will make its debut as a new thread in the tapestry of the OED.

    2. I love the word and just used it in a Sci Fi story (the title: The Kinestatic Holiday--about time travel). Thank your husband for the word. It really does apply to so many possibilities. blessings, Ann

  2. Although I'm not a nurse, I'm very familiar with hospitals and most of my books have a hospital scene in them.

  3. That's interesting, Patricia. We all seem to come back to the settings that we're familiar with.