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Author shares her story as a ‘Woman of Interest’

Former North Shore resident author Cindy Zimmermann signed copies her memoir 'A Woman Interest' Stationery StatiHighlPark Nov. 9. | NatashWasinski/For

Former North Shore resident and author Cindy Zimmermann signed copies of her memoir "A Woman of Interest" at Stationery Station in Highland Park Nov. 9. | Natasha Wasinski/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 26, 2014 2:45AM

“I missed him although I knew I had to let him go. I had tried everything in my power and imagination to bring back the Paul I loved. He didn’t seem to want to come back...Now there are dead bodies. And there is no going back, ever... Hugs, your friend, Cindy”

Emotion poured Cindy Zimmermann’s pen as she composed dozens of letters to a longtime confidante, after her husband of 23 years, Paul, was brutally murdered in Scottsdale, Ariz.

As if matters couldn’t get worse, his 2008 death coincided with the finalization of the former North Shore couple’s divorce, making Zimmermann a suspect.

Her hand-written notes now serve as the nexus of the recently-published memoir, “A Woman of Interest.” The hardcover book details how she overcame grief and public scrutiny following her seemingly-perfect family’s fall from grace.

Zimmermann, 55, dedicated the story to those who stuck by her side during those trying times, including local friends in the Chicago suburbs. For every doubter, she had a friend or two in tow.

“Some people think it’s just a book but I really call it a thank-you note,” she said. “It’s the longest thank-you note that I’ll ever write.”

Friends and former colleagues of the author trickled into Stationery Station in Highland Park on Saturday, Nov. 9, for a book signing.

Before moving to Arizona, the Zimmermanns spent 15 years in the Chicago area, residing in Highland Park, Lake Zurich and Glenview.

Zimmermann has been crisscrossing the country since the book’s publishing in March. A private signing party at friend’s house in Chicago preceded her Highland Park homecoming.

“Because she’s from (the area), I thought she would feel comfortable here with my customers and friends,” said Stationery Station owner Sheryl Oberman. “It just worked itself out beautifully.”

Zimmermann’s tale is as much about the events surrounding her husband’s murder investigation as it is her fierce passion for the antiquated art of letter writing.

“Where there were letters, there was comfort,” she said. “So I would just write letters.”

Zimmermann explained how her love of stationery, fine writing instruments, and the post office makes her a person of many interests.

“But the Scottsdale police thought I was a woman of interest for a very different reason,” she noted.

Zimmermann’s relationship with her spouse had become strained in the years leading up to their separation. Even so, she gets choked up describing the loss of a partner and the father of her three children.

Paul Zimmermann, she said, was well educated, handsome, and successful. He was also hard-playing.

His disappearance and death were ultimately attributed to a business acquaintance, Tom Sullivan, who shot and killed himself when approached by police for questioning. News reports from Arizona media quote detectives saying that Zimmermann was ruled out as a suspect.

Cindy Zimmermann in her book relies on public documents — including newspaper articles, court recordings, and police reports — to recount that tragic period.

“Because they were factual, it was not my interpretation,” she said.

Though compiling the 200-page memoir required her to relive her family’s darkest hours, Zimmermann said, for the most part, she tries to remain positive.

“I believe very strongly that what you put out in the universe is very important,” she said.

Zimmermann today writes a column for Pen World magazine, and continues to find solace in putting ink on paper and communicating with loved ones.

She said she mentions by name 270 of her most loyal supporters in “A Woman of Interest,” and plans to give each of them a personalized copy of the book, along with a sprig of rosemary as a symbol of their friendship.

“I went through some challenges and I just found that gratitude is one of the most important things in my life,” Zimmermann said. “It is very humbling.”

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