From attorney to published author - Dean Ferraro of Castle Rock writes legal thriller 12 years after first hatching idea

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A local lawyer-turned-author rekindled his passion for writing and produced his first legal thriller when he found himself home more, with less to do, during the first year of the pandemic.

Starting in the summer of 2020, and continuing for almost a year, Dean C. Ferraro worked in earnest to write the book he’d conceived 12 years earlier — a tale he began back before he had children or his own law practice. 

“Now’s the best time,” the Castle Rock attorney told himself when business at Ferraro Law Firm began to slow down. “There’s no excuse not to get it finished.”

Published in November 2021, the 364-page “Murder in Santa Barbara” follows a California deputy district attorney whose simple misdemeanor case becomes entwined with what originally appears to be an unrelated murder. 

Ferraro, who has practiced law for over two decades, drew on his own experience as an assistant district attorney for several of the story’s events. 

“A couple of the far-fetched things in my book that you would think ‘You couldn’t make this stuff up’ — I didn’t have to,” Ferraro said. “It really happened.”

Inspired by the best-selling author responsible for “The Firm” and “A Time to Kill,” Ferraro mined his professional past for adventuresome anecdotes. Also like John Grisham, Ferraro went to the University of Mississippi Law School. 

In fact, Ferraro’s sister gave him Grisham’s third novel, “The Pelican Brief,” when she realized he’d be attending the writer’s alma mater.

“I’ve always had interest in legal thrillers, ever since I read his book,” said Ferraro, who discovered he had a way with words as an undergraduate student studying political science. 

Born and raised in Southern California, Ferraro set his debut novel in the coastal town of Santa Barbara. It’s where he lived when he began working on the story in the late 2000s. 

The majority of the book, however, was written more recently from his home in Douglas County. Wanting to make his scene descriptions as accurate as possible, Ferraro ended up doing more research on his old stomping grounds than on the legal aspects of the novel, which were “second nature” to him, he said.

Ferraro’s move to Colorado came in 2015. He relocated to the state looking for a “slower pace” that would grant him more opportunities to enjoy life and time with his growing children. He also opened his own law practice, which specializes in estate planning, at that time.

Now that he’s rediscovered the joy of writing, however, Ferraro said he designates at least a couple of hours a day to the activity. He doesn’t want to let storytelling fall by the wayside again. 

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” the 51-year-old said. “And now that I’ve kind of jumped into it, I don’t want it to inadvertently get put on the back burner again.”

Ferraro’s currently working on “Murder in Vail,” the sequel to his first book. He expects it will be out by the end of the year.

“Murder in Santa Barbara” can be ordered through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and local independent bookstores. Autographed copies are available through Ferraro’s website, deancferraro.com.

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