Tag Archives: Michael Nava

Introducing Amble Press, an LGBTQ Imprint of Bywater Books!

Last week, we revealed the cover of Michael Nava’s newest Henry Rios book, Lies With Man, and today, he’s back to talk about the imprint publishing that book, Amble Press! Amble Press is a new LGBTQ imprint of Bywater Books, noted lesbian publisher of such titles as Jericho by Ann McMan, I Can’t Think Straight by Shamim Sarif, Compass Rose by Anna Burke, and Bury Me When I’m Dead by Cheryl A. Head. Now they’re going beyond the L, and as Managing Editor, Michael Nava’s here to talk about how it began, what’s coming up, and what they’re looking for!

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Michael Nava

Independent presses have been the life-blood of LGBTQ literary culture for decades. Scrappy small presses in the 70’s and 80’s published the first works of Rita Mae Brown, Dorothy Allison and Alison Bechdel, as well as trailblazing Black and Latinx writers like Larry Duplechan, James Earl Hardy, Jewelle Gomez, Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua. Firebrand Books published Stone Butch Blues, a pioneering work of work of trans literature and Alyson Publications dared to publish gay and lesbian childrens’ books – most notably Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman – at a time when gay people were demonized a pedophiles who recruited children into their ranks.

These presses existed because, by and large, New York publishers were hostile to queer writers even though it was an open secret that there were gay and lesbian editors at those big publishing houses. My own experience is instructive: in 1986, I submitted my first novel, a mystery featuring a gay, Mexican-American criminal defense lawyer named Henry Rios, to 13 New York publishers. It was rejected by every one of them. The editors who responded with more than a form letter rejection said essentially the same thing: this is a well-written book, but there’s no market for it. I found a home at Alyson Publications, which was then the preeminent small gay publisher. (Eventually, I would be published first by HarperCollins and then by Putnam until, in 2000, I began a fifteen-year break from writing and publishing.)

Small queer presses continue to be an essential part of our literary landscape because they remain necessary. Although the Big Publishers roll out the occasional LGBTQ book, queer writers, like writers from other traditionally marginalized still have a harder time getting their books published by an the increasing cautious and profit-driven mainstream publishing industry. A quick Google search reveals there are many small queer presses and to those already existing ones I want to introduce Amble Press, an imprint of Bywater Books, where I serve as managing editor.

Bywater Books is a respected lesbian press founded in 2004 that boasts among its award-winning roster of writers Cheryl Head, Ann McMan, Paula Martinac, Penny Micklebury and many more. In 2018, the Bywater’s leadership, publisher Salem West and director of operations, Marianne K. Martin, decided they wanted to start a new imprint that would expand their reach behind the lesbian community to other queer writers, and especially writers of color. They named the imprint Amble Press and their first acquisition was Alan E. Rose’s novel As If Death Summoned, a moving novel set in the last days of the worst of AIDS epidemic which reviewer Grady Harp calls “a beautiful, involving novel,” and about which Jerry Wheeler says in Out In Print “I couldn’t put it down.”

I was tapped as Amble’s managing editor last spring because of my interest in giving back to the queer literary community the same boost I had received when I was a young, emerging writer. Part of the agreement was that Amble would publish the next Henry Rios novel, Lies With Man, which appears in April. My first acquisitions will be published in the summer of 2021; Matthew Clark Davison’s debut novel Doubting Thomas in June, 2021 and Joe Okonkwo’s collection of short stories, Kiss the Scar on the Back of My Neck in August.

These books illustrate the great range of excellent queer writing out in the world that is not finding homes in the risk-averse culture of Big Publishing. Neither Davison nor Okonkwo are first-time, inexperienced writers. Davison teaches in the creative writing department of San Francisco State University, has published widely in places like Guernica and The Atlantic and anthologies like Empty the Pews and is the recipient of a number of literary awards and grants. But even with this pedigree and a literary agent, he struggled to find a publisher for his first novel about a gay teacher at an elite, private school falsely accused of inappropriately touching one of his students and its aftermath. Okonkwo’s first novel Jazz Moon, won the Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White Award for outstanding first novel and he too was represented by a distinguished literary agent for his superb collection of short stories.

Thirty years ago, both these writers may well have found homes with one of the big publishers. Of course, big publishing’s loss in Amble’s gain and, ultimately, also benefits queer readers who might otherwise be deprived of the work of these brilliant writers.

Amble Press is currently accepting submissions and is, as I said, particularly interested in queer writers of color. You can see our submissions information at https://www.bywaterbooks.com/amble_press_submissions/

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Lies With Man by Michael Nava

Today on the site I’m thrilled to be helping Michael Nava reveal the cover of the newest book in his award-winning Henry Rios mystery series, Lies With Man, releasing from Bywater Books’ new Amble Press imprint, which is helmed by Nava himself! (More on that later this month!) Lies With Man releases on April 27th, and the author’s sharing more about it here:

Evangelical Christians and right-wing Republicans push a ballot initiative to forcibly quarantine people with the HIV virus in the eighth Henry Rios novel, Lies With Man, by award winning mystery writer, Michael Nava. Set in Los Angeles in 1986, Rios, a gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer, agrees to represent members of a militant gay activist group called QUEER (Queers United to End Erasure and Repression) who are fighting to defeat the ballot measure with civil disobedience. When a fundamentalist church is firebombed, killing its pastor who supported the initiative, Theo Latour, a member of QUEER is arrested for the crime. And Rios suddenly finds himself defending a client facing the death penalty.

But, in the tradition of the best noir novels, and nothing is as it first appears. As Rios delves into the case, shocking secrets emerge about the victim, Rios’s client, QUEER, the highest echelons of the Los Angeles Police Department and the young man Rios falls in love with. Although set 30 years in the past, the themes of Lies With Man – the Christian right’s assault on LGBTQ people, a community overwhelmed by an epidemic, and police misconduct – could have been taken from today’s news. Lies With Man proves again what the Los Angeles Times said about a previous Rios novel: “Nava’s mysteries are set apart by their insight, compassion, and sense of social justice.” Or, in words of The New York Times Book Review, “Nava is one of our best.”

And here’s the explosive cover, designed by Ann McMan!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Michael Nava’s Henry Rios crime novels have won seven Lambda Literary awards for gay mystery. He is also the author of The City of Palaces, a historical novel set at the beginning of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. In 2001, he was awarded the Publishing Triangle’s Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award in LGBT literature. He currently serves as the managing editor of Amble Press, an imprint of Bywater Books. Amble Press publishes LGBTQ writers and is particularly interested in publishing queer writers of color.

April Book Deal Announcements

Adult

Lecturer in creative writing at San Francisco State University and creator and teacher at The Lab: Writing Classes Matthew Clark Davison‘s DOUBTING THOMAS, chronicling a year in the life of a gay fourth grade teacher at a school serving Portland, Oregon’s progressive Obama-era elite; he is fired, even after being cleared of a false molestation accusation, just before a family tragedy makes him the guardian of his 12-year-old biracial nephew; digging into the disparity between ideals and reality, to Michael Nava at Amble, in a nice deal, in an exclusive submission, for publication in spring 2021 (world English).

Cornell University MFA graduate, poet, professor, and performer Ryka Aoki‘s LIGHT FROM UNCOMMON STARS, about three women trying to escape their pasts—a hell-damned violin legend and teacher, a young transgender runaway and aspiring musician, and a spaceship captain fleeing a faraway war—who find each other, and unexpected magic, in California’s San Gabriel Valley, to Lindsey Hall at Tor, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Meredith Kaffel Simonoff at DeFiore and Company (world English).

Gretchen Felker-Martin‘s MANHUNT, about trans women scavenging for estrogen in a post-apocalyptic world where a viral plague has transformed all cis men into feral monstrosities, fighting tooth and nail against a menace they’ll join if they miss a dose, and on the run from an authoritarian faction of cis women who see them as a dangerous liability, pitched as a trans woman’s response to Y: THE LAST MAN, plus another standalone horror novel, to Kelly Lonesome at Nightfire, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in March 2022, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (world).

Freya Marske‘s A MARVELLOUS LIGHT, a historical fantasy pitched as JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL meets WITCHMARK, about a young civil servant named as liaison to the secret magical bureaucracy of Britain who must work with his magician counterpart to unravel a dangerous conspiracy, while struggling with their unexpected attraction and a deadly curse, to Ruoxi Chen at Tor.com, in a three-book deal, for publication in 2021, by Diana Fox at Fox Literary (NA).

Brooklyn-based writer and VONA/Voices and Queer Art Mentorship alumna Emily Hashimoto’s A WORLD BETWEEN, in which a college fling between two women turns into a lifelong connection, to Lauren Hook at Feminist Press, for publication in September 2020, by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic (NA).

Lambda-nominated writer and critic Megan Milks’s MARGARET AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BODY, a genre-bending queer and trans coming-of-age story that combines a ’90s-era girl group mystery series with a haunted eating disorder treatment center and a surreal mutant body-world, and SLUG AND OTHER STORIES a reissue of their debut collection with new stories, to Lauren Hook at Feminist Press, in a two-book deal, by Rach Crawford at MacKenzie Wolf (world English).

Charlotte Anne Hamilton‘s OF TRUST & HEART, an #OwnVoices f/f 1920s historical in which a lesbian Scottish heiress, who must find a husband soon, falls for a singer at a speakeasy, to Lydia Sharp at Entangled Embrace, for publication in 2021 (world).

Children’s/Middle Grade

Rosiee Thor and Taylor Barton‘s Picture Book THE MEANING OF PRIDE, about the significance, beauty, and universality of the concept of pride, as celebrated by millions of queer people and their allies around the world, illustrated by Sam Kirk, to Erika Turner at Versify, for publication in spring 2022, by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch Literary Services for the author, and by Nicolas Gomez and Michelle Collins at A Non-Agency for the illustrator (world).

Author of SEAFIRE Natalie Parker‘s Middle Grade THE DEVOURING WOLF, in which a young werewolf-to-be struggles to understand why she hasn’t yet transformed as expected, and to get to the bottom of the mystery and become the wolf she was always meant to be, she will have to unearth her community’s deepest secrets and face off against a terrifying creature from legend, to Chris Hernandez at Razorbill, in a very nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world English).

Founder and executive director of inQluded and 2019 SCBWI Emerging Voices winner medina’s THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU THE MOST, which follows a 12-year-old who lives at the intersection of multiple identities as they long to find their place in the world, but a school project, new trans and queer friends, and a YouTube channel helps them find purpose in their journey and find community, to Nick Thomas at Levine Querido, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall of 2021, by Marietta Zacker at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (NA and Dutch).

Young Adult

Aden Polydoros‘s YA THE CITY BEAUTIFUL, set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, a queer Jewish Gothic fantasy that follows a young immigrant who is possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered best friend and is thrust into a deadly hunt for a serial killer, to Rebecca Kuss at Inkyard Press, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Thao Le at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency (world English).

Robin Gow‘s YA A MILLION QUIET REVOLUTIONS, a love story in verse between two transgender boys who come out to each other the weekend before their senior year; together, they explore their identities and search history for the often untold stories of queer people like them, to Trisha de Guzman at Farrar, Straus Children’s, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in winter 2022, by Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary & Media (NA).

Adrienne Tooley‘s SOFI AND THE BONE SONG, after losing everything to an undeserving rival, a young musician sets out to expose that her rival’s newfound musical abilities stem from an illegal use of magic—but what she discovers will rock everything she knows about her family, music, and the girl she thought was her enemy, to Sarah McCabe at Simon Pulse, for publication in spring 2022, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Emery Lee’s MEET CUTE DIARY, about a trans teen who must decide if he’s dedicated to romantic formulas or open to unpredictable love after an internet troll-attack on his trans romance blog compels him and a fan to start fake-dating to salvage the blog’s reputation, to Alexandra Cooper at Quill Tree, for publication in summer 2021, by Beth Phelan at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (world English).

Kevin van Whye‘s NATE PLUS ONE, a teenage boy dreads the idea of attending his wealthy aunt’s wedding retreat in South Africa, until his crush, an indie rock musician, volunteers to be his plus-one; an #OwnVoices gay love story pitched as What if It’s Us meets Crazy Rich Asians, to Polo Orozco at Random House Children’s, for publication in spring 2022, by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic (world English).

Cara Davis-Araux, Candice Montgomery, and Adrianne Russell‘s ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES, an anthology of love stories for each of the star signs that will showcase BIPOC characters and celebrate the myriad facets of love, from meet-cutes to the lesser-explored love expressed by aromantic people, to Natashya Wilson at Inkyard Press, for publication in winter 2022, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Hannah Blumenreich‘s FULL-COURT CRUSH, about a basketball player whose team is being shut down, and her bookish girlfriend who is struggling alone with her chronically depressed mother; together, they learn how to navigate the troubles of life and 11th grade, to Kiara Valdez at First Second, in a significant deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2023, by Linda Camacho at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (NA).

Aaron Aceves‘s THIS IS WHY THEY HATE US, a debut about a bisexual Latino teen from East L.A. who is determined to get over his crush on his best friend by summer’s end and winds up discovering hilarious, heartfelt truths about friendship, family, and himself, to Jennifer Ung at Simon Pulse, for publication in spring 2022, by Tina Dubois at ICM (NA).

Lambda Literary Award-winning author Rebecca Podos and Stonewall honoree Ashley Herring Blake‘s FOOLS IN LOVE, a YA romance anthology offering up fresh takes on classic romance tropes in multiple genres, featuring Rebecca Barrow, Gloria Chao, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Hannah Moskowitz, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, Natasha Ngan, Julian Winters, and more, to Britny Brooks at Running Press Kids, for publication in December 2021, by Eric Smith at P.S. Literary Agency (world).

Author of HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME Sonia Hartl’s THE LOST GIRLS, about a girl who sets out for revenge against the undead ex-boyfriend who turned her into a vampire decades ago, then starts to fall for his mortal girlfriend, to Ashley Hearn at Page Street, for publication in fall 2021, by Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary Agency (world).

Jonny Garza Villa’s FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES FROM THE SUN, an #OwnVoices debut pitched as SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets One Day at a Time, about a Texas high school senior who accidentally comes out to the world on social media and must now juggle the joy of first love and fear of his socially conservative father finding out before he’s ready, to Carmen Johnson at Skyscape, at auction, by Claire Draper at The Bent Agency (world).

Nonfiction

Author of PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award and Lambda Literary Award-nominated essay collection MINE Sarah Viren‘s AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SHADOWS, a dual narrative memoir about her coming-of-age and coming out in mid-’90s Florida under the tutelage of a conspiracy theorist high school teacher and her wife’s Title IX investigation as the result of false accusations leveled by a professional rival, as covered in the author’s viral New York Times Magazine essay, to Sally Howe at Scribner, in a pre-empt, by Matt McGowan at Frances Goldin Literary Agency (world English).

New Releases: October 21st-31st

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Most Ardently by Susan Mesler-Evans (21st)

Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with.

From the moment they meet, Elisa and Darcy are at each other’s throats — which is a bit unfortunate, since Darcy’s best friend is dating Elisa’s sister. It quickly becomes clear that fate intends to throw the two of them together, whether they like it or not. As hers and Darcy’s lives become more and more entwined, Elisa’s once-dull world quickly spirals into chaos in this story of pride, prejudice, and finding love with the people you least expect.

Buy it: Amazon

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi (22nd)

oct16Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.

When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.

For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.

With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Carved in Bone by Michael Nava (22nd)

This is the 8th book in the Henry Rios series

November, 1984. Criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios, fresh out of rehab and picking up the pieces of his life, reluctantly accepts work as an insurance claims investigator and is immediately is assigned to investigate the apparently accidental death of Bill Ryan. Ryan, part of the great gay migration into San Francisco in the 1970s, has died in his flat of carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas line, his young lover barely surviving. Rios’s investigation into Ryan’s death – which Rios becomes convinced was no accident – tracks Ryan’s life from his arrival in San Francisco as a terrified 18-year-old to his transformation into a successful businessman. What begins for Rios as the search for the truth about Bill Ryan’s death becomes the search for the meaning of Ryan’s life as the tsunami of AIDS bears down on the gay community.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Find Me by André Aciman (29th)

This is the sequel to Call Me By Your Name

In this spellbinding exploration of the varieties of love, the author of the worldwide bestseller Call Me by Your Namerevisits its complex and beguiling characters decades after their first meeting.

No novel in recent memory has spoken more movingly to contemporary readers about the nature of love than André Aciman’s haunting Call Me by Your Name. First published in 2007, it was hailed as “a love letter, an invocation . . . an exceptionally beautiful book” (Stacey D’Erasmo, The New York Times Book Review). Nearly three quarters of a million copies have been sold, and the book became a much-loved, Academy Award–winning film starring Timothée Chalamet as the young Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver, the graduate student with whom he falls in love.

In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever.

Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.

Aciman is a master of sensibility, of the intimate details and the emotional nuances that are the substance of passion. Find Me brings us back inside the magic circle of one of our greatest contemporary romances to ask if, in fact, true love ever dies.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | Indiebound

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett (29th)

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

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All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell (29th)

37236008There’s no such thing as a secret.

SOMETHING happened to Ava. The curving scar on her face is proof. But Ava would rather keep that something hidden—buried deep in her heart and her soul.

She has her best friend Syd, and she has her tattoos—a colorful quilt, like a security blanket, over her whole body—and now, suddenly, she has Hailey. Beautiful, sweet Hailey, who seems to like Ava as much as she likes her. And Ava isn’t letting anything get in the way of finally, finally seeking peace. But in the woods on the outskirts of town, the traces of someone else’s secrets lie frozen, awaiting Ava’s discovery—and what Ava finds threatens to topple the carefully-constructed wall of normalcy that she’s spent years building. Secrets leave scars. But when the secret in question is not your own—do you ignore the truth and walk away? Or do you uncover it from its shallow grave, and let it reopen old wounds—wounds that have finally begun to heal?

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | Indiebound

Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland (29th)

stricklandbookKamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom …

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

I’m A Gay Wizard by V. S. Santoni (29th)

santonibookCarry On meets Rick Riordan in I’m a Gay Wizard, where a brave new nonbinary voice in YA fantasy has created a vivid, engaging world with love at its core

You do magic once, and it sticks to you like glitter glue…

When Johnny and his best friend, Alison, pass their summer holidays dabbling in magic, they never expect it to have consequences. Sure, it’d be great if they could banish bullies or change their lives for the better, and what harm could come from lighting a few candles and chanting a few spells? They get their answer in the form of an earthquake unleashed at their behest, which draws the attention of the Marduk Institute, an age-old organization dedicated to fostering the talents of young wizards.

Whisked away to the institute and told they can never return to their old lives, Johnny and Alison must quickly adapt to a new world shimmering with monsters, fraternities, and cute boys like Hunter and Blake. But when they’re pulled into a dark, supernatural fight that could cost them their lives, they’ll have to find strength they never knew they had as they battle for love, acceptance, and their own happy endings—all with the help of a little bit of magic

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Fave Five: Series Starring Queer PIs

Roxane Weary by Kristen Lepionka

Donald Strachey by Richard Stevenson

Dave Brandstetter by Joseph Hansen

The Henry Rios Mysteries by Michael Nava

Charlie Mack Motown Mystery by Cheryl A. Head

Bonus: This is primarily centered on adult books, but I’d be remiss not to mention the Historical MG series Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens!