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Southlake Style

Underneath It All

Oct 06, 2016 02:21PM ● By Ashley Pape

For eight sassy Texas women (pictured clockwise from upper left), Linda Storer, Shelley Tyler, Becky Elder, Charlotte Hill, Bev Mann, Terri Jutras, Debbie Williams and Debbi Comparin, a little red thong is much more than an undergarment; it’s a bond between friends. In their book, “Red Thong Strong,” these local authors (five reside in Colleyville) offer tips on navigating life’s ups and downs—or as they say, “smoothing life’s panty lines.” Get a copy and prepare to laugh out loud—and maybe develop a little “thong-a-tude” along the way.

What inspired your group of friends to write a book? Everyone told us we had something special. So one night after a party celebrating our high school graduates, we started jotting down ideas on napkins, scraps of paper and anything we could find. Next thing we knew, we were meeting weekly to share our secrets to finding lasting friendships, embracing all life has to offer and having fun along the way. 

“Red Thong Strong” is a spunky title! How did you decide on the name? To us, a thong was a natural choice. For years we’ve given each other pretty red panties to help take the sting out of big birthdays. And over time, the red thong has come to represent the bold, confident way we want to live and how small, unseen things can have a big impact. 

What do you hope readers take away from your tales of friendship? We hope readers find our book fun, informative and helpful. We want them to feel connected to our group and realize the life-changing value girlfriends can have. We’d like to inspire readers to make new friends while appreciating and working to deepen and strengthen their present relationships. 

So, what’s the key to maintaining lifelong friendships? Much like marriage, long-term friendships require commitment. We’ve learned transparency brings us closer, being quick to apologize and forgive is both humbling and healing, and embracing each other’s differences leads us to laughter. When our friendship began in the 1980s, we did not have email or social media. We’ve always had something far better: verbal communication. 

What was the biggest challenge in writing the book? Scheduling! Coordinating meetings with eight active, involved women proved to be a daunting task. With eight husbands, 18 children, 20 grandchildren, jobs and other commitments, scheduling writing time was like piecing together a puzzle. Life sometimes got in our way—births, deaths, injuries, illnesses, job changes and relocations—but we persevered. 

Tell us about the process of compiling each woman’s stories. We began the book on Debbi’s 50th birthday and it took 10 years to complete. It took time because we wrote every word together. Tuesday night became our “book club” night—not for reading great works but for writing one. Picture a round table, dueling laptops and eight opinionated women. 

Did you draw inspiration from other books? 

Oh, yes. In fact, we modeled our book after several of our favorites. Like “Don’t Sing at the Table” by Adriana Trigiani, “Red Thong Strong” includes life lessons, personal anecdotes women can apply to their own lives and some of our best recipes. Our book also recounts true experiences of a girlfriend group with a lifetime of memories in common, as Jeffrey Zaslow did in “The Girls from Ames.” In addition to encouraging readers, our stories should help them empathize with and relate to our girlfriend group and energize them to tackle new and exciting adventures. 

How has the book transformed your lives? 

Releasing “Red Thong Strong” has been an amazing adventure. At a time when our lives should be slowing down, our book is keeping us busier than ever. It has given us an opportunity to reconnect with old friends while making many new ones in Texas and around the country. We love talking with readers at our book signings as well as on social media. Many tell us they see themselves and their girlfriends in our stories. We’ve also been honored to learn many women walk away from the book feeling invigorated and delighted to know they’ve made eight new best friends. 

Can we count on a sequel? We've often joked that our next book will be a journal with blank pages. But all kidding aside, we’re not ready to end our journey. Writing “Red Thong Strong” has been an incredible experience that has enriched our lives and hopefully our readers’ lives as well. We may write about the next chapter of our friendship. Never underestimate the power of eight women in red!