Flashbacks - Suggested Questions for Book Groups

1. Do you think our upbringing shapes the way we become?

2. Ali, Adam and Kaylah are the central characters. What has shaped them to be the way they are?

3. Extremism is a key theme in this novel. Do you think an author has to be close to extremism to write authentically about it? 

4. Around the central characters other characters play significant roles, e.g. the churches of Ruth Churchill and Sam Kone. How did you experience their worlds?

5. Clive and Winston’s world of drugs and gangs brings other themes into play. What do you think they are?

6. The police, anti-extremism and security services have a difficult task. How should they go about their task? 

7. Is the PM a character you like or dislike? Why? 

8. Adam’s experience begins with the excitement of a Gap Year. How would you describe his relationship with his parents, Sue and Jim?

9. Are both Ali and Kaylah ‘groomed’? What does ‘grooming’ mean?

10. Two world religions emerge in the story, Islam and Christianity.  What do you think these religions can do to address the problem of extremism?

11. Which character touched you most and why?

12. How did the ending make you feel?

IStanbul - Suggested Questions for Book Groups

1. The life of Ali Muhammed, central in Flashbacks, features in IStanbul. How would you sum up Ali?

2. The key characters of Kaylah Kone and Adam Taylor are further developed here. What are the strengths and weaknesses of these two?

3. Turkey lies in the borderland of east and west, Europe and Asia. How important is the author’s choice of setting? Do the novel’s themes cross national boundaries?

4. Clive Kone is given a chance. What do you think of his story and that of his associates?

5. The institutions of the state, namely the police and security services, are given prominence in the story. What is your assessment of their role?

6. Harry McNamara appears on the scene. What do you make of his part in events and his character?

7. One of the themes is that of ‘grooming.’ Was Ali groomed by Salim? Was Lena groomed? Others? What makes someone either susceptible or resilient to grooming?

8. Do cultures, faiths and beliefs have positive and/or negative effects on people?

9. What does the reader take away with them?

Harry's England - Suggested Questions for Book Clubs

1.    Harry McNamara is the central character. What kind of personality is he? How did you find his family?

2.    The plot depends on groups of people being susceptible to manipulation. Are people easily led?

3.    The Circle is a shadowy sinister group. They are interested in political power. How does that relate to the world we live in? 

4.    April Cooper is the central police character. What do you make of her, the police and the Prevent programme? How does one tackle extremism?

5.    Adam Taylor and Raqiyah Nahawi's relationship is complex. What are the key elements you can identify? Has it a future?

6.    The South West of England provides the setting for this novel. Could events like those described ever happen here? Was the novel believable?

7.    How did you feel the story line developed and did the ending satisfy?

8.    Key themes in the author's writing are 'us' and 'them' – and how community works. Why did you think the author wrote these stories?

9.    What does the reader take away from this book?