In the political sphere, I was heavily influenced by two very perceptive and rather depressing books about the United States, The Right Nation by John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge and What’s the Matter with America by Thomas Frank, as well as the brilliant and slightly less depressing Stiffed by Susan Faludi. While these books all fed into the concept of the Secession and the gender themes arising in Thirteen, the Confederated Republic itself (aka Jesusland) was inspired by the now famous Jesusland map meme, created (according to Wikipedia) by one G. Webb on the message board Way to go, G.! Special personal thanks must also go to Alan Beatts of Borderlands books in San Francisco for listening to my meanderings over whiskey and shwarma, and lending me a little informed American opinion with which to polish up what I had.

For insights into a possible future (and widely misunderstood past) Islam, I’m also indebted to Tariq Ali for The Clash of Fundamentalisms, Karen Armstrong for Islam: A Short History, and the very courageous Irshad Manji for The Trouble with Islam Today. Here also, I have done my fair share of mangling, and the outcomes in Thirteen do not necessarily bear any relation to anything these authors might endorse.

And finally, I owe a massive debt of gratitude to all those who waited with such immense patience, and still told me to take all the time I needed:

Simon Spanton—again!—and Jo Fletcher at Gollancz, Chris Schluep and Betsy Mitchell at Del Rey, my agent Carolyn Whitaker, and last but not least all those well-wishers who e-mailed me during 2006 with messages of condolence, reassurance, and support. This book would not exist without you.

This book is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Margaret Ann Morgan, who taught me to hate bigotry, cruelty, and injustice with an unrelenting rage, and to despise the hypocrisy that looks away or makes comfortable excuses when those same vices crop up closer to home than we’d like.

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