The teen novel Into The River may become a Hollywood movie as news of its banning in New Zealand sparks worldwide debate.

The novel, which includes teenage sex scenes, drugs and bullying, was banned on September 3 until the Film and Literature Board of Review hears an appeal from Family First on October 2 against a censor's decision last month to remove an R14 restriction on the book.

Author Ted Dawe said today he had been "besieged by emails from all sorts of places" since news of the ban broke.

"One of them was from a Hollywood producer," he said.


"I checked him out on Google and sure enough, he's the genuine article, so I forwarded it to my publishing company because I can't handle those sorts of things."

He has also been approached by people wanting to translate the book into French, Dutch and Finnish, someone else who wants to make it an audio book, and by publishers asking him to write articles for The Guardian in Britain, the New York Observer and a Texas free-speech website called Comcastro.

"The Guardian wants me to write an article promoting swearing and sex in children's books," he said. "The UK feels there's not enough of it in UK books.

"The Americans are also very interested in all this because I think banning and suppression of books conflicts with their first amendment. We don't have this sort of discussion very often in New Zealand."

Last night he spent about four hours fielding questions from all over the world on the Reddit website with help from his 18-year-old son.

"My son said it's the Guardian for young people. It was a really freewheeling and quite fun and crazy session," he said.

Separately, another Hollywood producer approached him about a week before Into The River was banned about making a movie out of his 2004 novel Thunder Road, which introduced the key characters in Into The River.

The ban has forced all NZ bookshops and libraries to take Into The River off their shelves. Mr Dawe said Amazon had also stopped selling it to New Zealanders, although it is still selling it overseas.


He said NZ Society of Authors chief executive Jackie Dennis tried to buy a copy for her Kindle while overseas but was refused because Amazon could see that she bought her Kindle in New Zealand.

"The person next to her from Australia was able to buy a copy," he said.
His publisher, Random House, told him that 1139 e-book copies of the book were sold yesterday.