Final Chautauqua event of the season to feature NY Times Best Selling author with local ties.
Final Chautauqua event of the season to feature NY Times Best Selling author with local ties
If you knew Dwight Jon Zimmerman in high school you probably thought he was kind of a nerd. He was tall, lanky, with dark rimmed glasses and an intense, maybe quizzical look most of the time. The 1971 graduate of Central High School was always just a little what some would call unusual and he’d be the first to tell you that.
He’s coming to Devils Lake next week and will share the story of what he calls his “surprising career and life” as an author at the final Chautauqua event of the season, Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Chautauqua Gallery at LRSC.
Today he is a New York Times best selling author with numerous awards and trophies for his writing and shelves filled with his prize-winning books.
Zimmerman says he loved words and books his whole life and therefore pursued a career in printing, figuring that would be the closest thing to fulfilling his dream of being involved with publishing. After graduating from high school and college at Wahpeton he’d gotten a job working at the UND Press and it was there he says he experienced the watershed moment that changed his life.
One of his fellow workers, an older man who had been there for many years, told him a story about a friend of his who had worked there with him a number of years back who had left to start his own company. He’d encouraged his friend to come with him on the venture, but he had declined.
Zimmerman’s co-worker said that fellow had recently gotten in contact with him again and said he had recently sold his business for several million dollars.
“That story changed my life,” Zimmerman said.
“I decided then and there that I didn’t want to come to some point in my life and ask the question, ‘I wonder what would have happened to me if . . . if I had taken him up on that offer.’ I never wanted to ask that ‘what if’ question.”
It was a long shot, but he knew his friend from high school, Dave Kraft, was already in New York, already working at Marvel Comics, so he took that leap. He got into the business through the side door, he says, using those printing skills he’d learned at Wahpeton State School of Science.
It didn’t take long before he adapted to life in the big city and moved into a variety of editorial positions at Marvel Comics. Among his Marvel comic book writing credits are stories for Spiderman, The X-Men and The Hulk and other superheroes. In addition to his comic book stories, he has written a wide variety of children’s book adventures based on licensed product toy lines, most notably the Transformers.
In 1992, Zimmerman became the executive editor of Topps Comics and was responsible for the editorial and art direction of its lines of media tie-in comics including a series based on The X-Files, Mars Attacks, Jurassic Park, Zorro, Xena: Warrior Princess and other titles. In addition, Zimmerman wrote a number of the stories as well, including an X-Files comic book story set in his hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, and was the writer, editor and art director of the Princess Diana the graphic novel biography of Diana, Princess of Wales published by Topps.
The list of his writing credentials is almost too long to mention with all the books and articles that he has co-authored, written on his own or adapted from the original for younger readers.
Zimmerman says of his career, “I don’t want anyone to pinch me to wake up and find this has all been a dream. I still feel very much like a kid.”
While in Devils Lake next week Zimmerman will be sharing his story at the Devils Lake High School, Central Middle School and the elementary schools as well as his presentation for Chautauqua on Thursday evening for the public.
His message is to pursue your dreams and keep plugging away at it, you never know what might happen. Just look at all this Devils Lake graduate has done so far in his life and he says he’s not done yet, there’s more ahead for him and his family.
He’s been married to Joélle for almost 30 years. She was a foreign exchange student from France he met while living in the foothills of Northeast Georgia a while back.
They have two children. Eric is 26 years old and is in France pursuing his dream to be an actor, taking dad’s advice to “follow his dreams.” He is also a professional educator who taught in Maine for three or four years before going to pursue his own dream.
Daughter Léa is also pursuing her dream attending college in Brooklyn pursuing a career in graphic design. Her father says she has shown real artistic talent and imagines that computer design will be her day job.
Zimmerman says he’s had two heroes in his life. Those heroes are his sister, Mary, and his brother, Chris. Mary is a nurse who has spent her life caring for people and their physical needs. Chris is a landscape architect who has spent his life caring for peoples’ souls with his creations and designs.
Chris lives in New York, as well, and will be accompanying his big brother back home to Devils Lake next week to visit their mom, Darlene, who still lives in the Zimmerman home on Seventh Avenue NE.