October 29, 2020


Kay DiBianca

People occasionally ask me why I chose a watch as the theme of my cozy mystery series. It wasn’t intentional. Perhaps it bubbled up from my subconscious since I’m fascinated with the concept of time, that peculiar dimension that can be a cruel, though always equitable, task master.

Time is a valuable asset that we all own. We can exchange it wisely for a job well done, or we can waste it on foolish endeavors, but we can’t put it in the bank and withdraw it later when we’re ready for more. And despite what our science-fiction-writing friends tell us, time only moves in one direction.

I remember exactly where I was when I decided to write my first novel, The Watch on the Fencepost. I was running in a park while listening to an audiobook in my favorite genre, mystery. I had been listening to the book over several outings, and I came to the conclusion that I could write a story as interesting as the enjoyable one I was hearing through my earbuds.

As I passed by a long fence bordering a pasture, I developed the basic outline for my story. The main character would be a young woman, a runner of course, who would be training for a marathon as a way to cope with the sorrow of her parents’ recent deaths in an automobile accident. During her outing, she would find something left on a fencepost that would pique her curiosity and propel her into a quest to find the truth behind her parents’ untimely deaths.

I don’t recall exactly why I decided a watch would be the artifact she would find on the fencepost, but the idea fit into the mystery. As she gazes at the watch, the main character muses over a quote from one of her English professors who was fond of saying, “With time all things are revealed.” A good premonition for a murder mystery.

As I fleshed out that first novel, I decided the use of a timepiece was a worthy theme, and my husband came up with the title The Watch on the Fencepost. The book includes a series of clues that were left for one purpose, but ended up serving another. The first of these cryptic clues has to do with light, and that was the secondary theme in the book. Of course, mysteries are by definition shrouded in darkness, so the idea of light shining through to reveal the truth intrigued me.

As we neared publication in 2019, I began to work on the plot for a second book in the series entitled Dead Man’s Watch. A watch plays an important part in that story as well. Time is of the essence as the two main characters, Kathryn and Cece, try to prove the innocence of a man accused of murder by finding the real killer. The secondary theme of this book is “determination,” a theme most novel writers are familiar with. Dead Man’s Watch was released in September 2020.

I’m working on the third book in the series now. I’m thinking of doing a little experimentation with the characters in this one, but It will certainly have a timepiece as an important element in the story.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a theme for your book or series? What made you decide on your theme?

Kay DiBianca is a bestselling author who loves to create literary puzzles for her readers to solve. Her characters come to life as they struggle to solve mysteries and create relationships amidst the ongoing themes of faith and family. Her first novel, The Watch on the Fencepost, won an Illumination Award for General Fiction and an Eric Hoffer Award for Mystery. The second book in the Watch series, Dead Man’s Watch, was released in September 2020.

Kay is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. An avid runner, she can often be found at a nearby track, on the treadmill, or at a large park near her home. Her background in software development fuels her fascination with puzzles and mysteries, and her dedication to running helps supply the endurance and energy she needs to write about them!

Kay and her husband, Frank, live, run, and write in Memphis, Tennessee.

You can connect with Kay through her website at



  1. Kay, I love how you set the themes for your book. It keeps it concise and clear. thanks for sharing.

    1. Susan, thank you for the opportunity to post on Suite T!

  2. Susan, the phrase on the graphic caught my eye (saving one life is like saving the whole world). You may know that it's a paraphrase of the original from the Talmud: "Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world." Something we should never forget. I try to illustrate it through my fiction, too, which like yours features puzzles for the reader to sort out :)

    1. Hi Ed! Yes, the phrase is from the Talmud and it's introduced to the protagonist during a ladies' Torah study. She takes it to heart and it drives her behavior as the story unfolds.

      Sounds like our writing has a lot in common.

  3. It's amazing how our mind works and how a fence can trigger a story!

    Kay, I'm glad to see you are a member of ACFW and live in Memphis--we have a Memphis chapter and are meeting on Zoom right now.

    1. Hi Patricia! Are you in Memphis? I'm a member of ACFW Memphis chapter, but I never get to go to the meetings because they're on Saturday, which is Sabbath for me. I'd love to connect with everyone, though. (Didn't realize there was a zoom meeting tonight.)