How far would you go to find the perfect husband? All the way back to the 1950s? Those are the questions Meri Newberg finds herself asking in Husband Auditions, the latest release from award-winning author Angela Ruth Strong.
“The idea for Husband Auditions came from a real article, ‘129 Ways to Get a Husband,’ that was published in McCall’s magazine in the 1950s. Some of the suggestions were quite outlandish, such as standing on a street corner with a lasso, and I imagined what would happen if a modern-day woman tried them out. When I created an original list for my book, I went to my reader group on Facebook for ideas. We had such a great time with all of them, and I can’t wait for my readers to see which of their ideas made it into the story.” —Angela Ruth Strong
FF: Please introduce us to your new book, Husband Auditions. Where did the inspiration for “the list” come from?
Husband Auditions tells the story of Meri Newberg who is the last single woman among her friend group. At the latest wedding, she’s handed a strange present—a 1950s magazine article with a list of “ways to get a husband.” She starts thinking about trying out a few of them because it sure couldn’t hurt.
Her brother’s roommate, Kai Kamaka, sees the whole thing as a great opportunity to jumpstart his career as a cameraman. He talks Meri into letting him film every silly husband-catching attempt for a new online show in the hopes of it going viral.
I got the idea for Husband Auditions from a real article “129 Ways to Get a Husband” that was published in McCall’s magazine in the 1950s. (You may have seen it online when it was floating around Facebook a couple of years ago like I did.) Some of the suggestions were quite outlandish (ex: stand on a street corner with a lasso), and I imagined what would happen if a modern-day woman tried them out.
FF: You wrote your own list for the sake of the book. Can you share what some of your favorite activities from the list were?
While a lot of the ideas from Meri’s list were definitely inspired by the original, I did set out to create my own. I went to my reader group on Facebook for inspiration. I’m so thankful for the help in coming up with some of these. I had so much fun with them all!
Here are just a few:
-Wear a bandage in public and have a tale of daring to go with it.
-Create suspense like Alfred Hitchcock by buying a convertible to go with your headscarf and cat-eye glasses.
-Faint in front of him. Seeing a woman’s weakness awakens a man’s nature to take care of her.
-Let your date do the ordering. Never directly ask the waiter for anything.
FF: What piece of advice from the list comes up again and again, making it almost a theme of the book?
When brainstorming the book at a writing conference, my friend and historical author Peter Leavell was intrigued by the idea of Meri carrying around a hatbox. I laughed and said, “Only you, Peter.” So, I had to stick him in the novel. He’s the character who gives better advice than anything on Meri’s list. He says, “A gentleman always chooses what he wants most over what he wants in the moment.”
This is what gets to Kai. At first Kai is content in not being a gentleman. Because being a gentleman would take work. And sacrifice. And patience. But the advice haunts him, and he has to ask himself what he really wants. He still tries to take a shortcut to getting what he wants, but Meri has also learned this lesson, and she’s not going to settle for a relationship with a man who chooses not to be a gentleman just so she can be in a relationship.
This line about choosing what you want most in life over what you want in the moment fits both character arcs. I also felt it perfectly blended the classy 1950s era with our modern day entitled society.
FF: Tell us more about Meri and Kai. Is theirs a case of opposites attract?
Meri is a nurse who planned her whole career around what would be the best way to raise a family. She is a planner who wants nothing more than to be a wife and mother, but everyone in her friend group has gotten married except for her. She’s at the point in her life where her friends are starting to get divorced, and she’s realizing that there’s more to happily-ever-after than just walking down the aisle.
Kai doesn’t want to get married, and he tries to avoid responsibility. He works the night shift job that started out as a college internship, and he hates planning because he’s been disappointed one too many times. Sometimes he itches for more, but he’s afraid to scratch that itch—especially where Meri is involved because he cares too much for her to ever want to let her down. His mom thinks he’ll outgrow this phase like a pair of old shoes, but if he doesn’t, he’ll never be able to go the distance.
I recently read a book about dysfunctional relationships and it listed seven different heart issues. One of them was laziness, which is said to be the most frustrating for a woman to have to deal with, and it seems to be common in the younger generations. I wanted to explore the idea of a lazy but likable hero and what it would take for him to have to grow. I gave Meri the heart issue of fear because the fear of being alone could trap her into a relationship with a man who was just going to sponge off her. I believe many women choose bad love over no love at all, and I want to encourage them to invite their significant other into the light rather than join him in the dark.
FF: What advice would you give to single women about the desire to find love and their dreams for marriage?
The best advice I ever got was this: When two people are in a relationship, they have to be relatively close in emotional health. When one person starts to grow, it creates tension in the relationship like a rubber band stretched between two fingers. With such tension, one of three things has to happen. Either the less healthy person chooses to grow, the more healthy person has to regress, or the less healthy person leaves. In all your relationships, choose to grow. If the person you want to be in a relationship with chooses NOT to grow, you are going to be healthier without them. Don’t ever choose “bad love” over no love at all. You are worth much more than that. And you are already loved more than you can even imagine. Let Jesus be your enough, and as you run towards Him, look for a man who wants to run by your side.
FF: Why do women think they can change something about a man once they are in a relationship? Does that ever turn out well?
Codependency says, “I control you, you control me.” So when you are trying to change someone, you are saying, “I will make you who I want you to be so I can be happy.”
In a healthy relationship, you say, “I control me, you control you.” In that situation, you can invite them to make better choices, but you’re going to be happy either way. Like I mentioned above, this creates tension. It’s soooo hard.
In my relationship, my husband will sometimes ask, “What can I do better?” I’ll answer, and he’ll try, but he doesn’t always succeed. And vice versa. We’ve created a relationship where we try to please each other but there is also grace when we fail.
FF: Why is this book special to you as the author?
I absolutely loved writing this book. I’d finished it, and my agent was shopping it when I got breast cancer. Through cancer, I didn’t have the energy to write. I didn’t have energy to do anything but lie on the couch and stare off into space. As I stared, I relived this book in my mind. I played it like a movie in my head. And I looked forward to this day—to the day I could share it with you. It kept me going through five months of chemo and a double mastectomy. No other book will ever hold this place in my heart.
How far would you go to find the perfect husband? All the way back to the 1950s?
In a world full of happily-ever-after love, Meri Newberg feels like the last young woman on the planet to be single, at least in her Christian friend group. So when she’s handed a strange present at the latest wedding–a 1950s magazine article of “ways to get a husband”–she decides there’s nothing to lose by trying out its advice. After all, she can’t get any more single, can she?
Her brother’s roommate sees the whole thing as a great opportunity. Not to fall in love–Kai Kamaka has no interest in the effort a serious relationship takes. No, this is a career jump start. He talks Meri into letting him film every silly husband-catching attempt for a new online show. If it goes viral, his career as a cameraman will be made.
When Meri Me debuts, it’s an instant hit. People love watching her lasso men on street corners, drop handkerchiefs for unsuspecting potential beaus, and otherwise embarrass herself in pursuit of true love. But the longer this game goes on, the less sure Kai is that he wants Meri to snag anyone but him. The only problem is that he may not be the kind of husband material she’s looking for . . .
Angela Ruth Strong
Genres: Romance, Romantic Comedy
Release Date: July 20, 2021
ISBN-10 : 0825447100
ISBN-13 : 978-0825447105
Buy Husband Auditions from the FF Store HERE!
Buy Husband Auditions from Amazon HERE!