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His first novel, Twelve, written when he was 17, an account of Upper East side teenagers into drugs, violence, and Ebonics, was an international best seller. He says "I was born at the right time, in the right place, to the right people". After Twelve's publication, he "spent two years feeling guilty and trying to deal with the nepotism stuff. But everyone tells me this is how it works." His father is Terry McDonnell, managing editor of Sports Illustrated. Hs publisher at Grove Press is Morgan Entrekin,who also happens to be a good friend of his fathers, and Nick's younger brother's godfather. George Plimpton is a close family friend and advisor. Hunter Thompson is also his younger brother's godfather. Nick's godfather's are P.J O'Rourke and Russell Chatham. "I've had, he says "absurdly good luck." Without question, Nick McDonell has oher things a writer needs besides a publisher: a voice and talent. Which doesn't change the fact that there a plenty of people as talented as he is, some more so, who won't succeed because they don't have his confidence or his connections. So it goes on planet Earth. "I'm worried about gettign a fair shake because I've had so many advantages".

— NIck McDonell literary connections  

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