Jeff Kinney, Author, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In 1998 Jeff came up with the idea for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a story about a middle-school weakling named Greg Heffley. Jeff worked on his book for almost eight years before showing it to a publisher in New York. Jeff Kinney was born in 1971 in Maryland and attended the University of Maryland in the early 1990s. It was there that Jeff ran a comic strip called "Igdoof" in the campus newspaper, and he knew he wanted to be a cartoonist.