Written By Lisa Breslin, Photos by: Walter Calahan
Curiosity and fear of boredom motivate Dr. Domingo A. Rocha a family doctor, father, author, pilot, race car driver, runner, avid reader and Ravens fan. His first graduate degree was in physics, but when he found lab work too slow, he became a doctor so he could make differences and see results that are immediate, daily. Rocha hails from Texas, where his mother still lives; however, his worldview is an amalgamation of Mississippi, Madrid, Michigan and Maryland. He and his wife of 40 years, Carolyn, live in Finksburg. They have two daughters, Allie and Holly, and a cat named Tommy.
Tell us about your love for writing.
I’ve been an author for 21 years. I have always loved reading. I remember loving the language in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” when I was young. I also read Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island and loved it so much I wanted more like it. But there was not one, so I wrote a few pages for one. I was 15. The next day, I shared it with a teacher – she said it was terrible. I put writing down for 20 years. I read 40 to 50 books a year. Finally a friend said, “You have read enough – you can write.” My first piece was a true short story about the trip to Lithuania to adopt our daughter.
Creative writing is fun, but publishing is much harder. Murder mysteries is one of my favorite genres. I have written seven books. I used to write when I had time, often in the evenings and in the morning. Now I write when I have the time and energy. I’m currently working on a mega book: futuristic, apocalyptic.
What are your muses?
Boredom. My children, Allie and Holly, and my wife, Carolyn. My wife and I met in college in Kalamazoo. We were smitten at first sight.
What are some of your personal demons?
Down time, boredom, weight. I have fought weight issues all my life. A year and a half ago; I weighed 290 pounds. I now weigh 179 pounds.
There was no magic to the weight loss. I exercise one to two hours a day. I take small bites and chew them 20 times, so now it takes 15 minutes to eat rather than three minutes. I also learned to knit, which helps with downtime.
Who are some of your favorite authors, or what are some of your favorite books?
Right now, Malcolm Gladwell, science fiction authors, the Harry Potter series, The Artist’s Way.
Cast Away, Gravity, The Hunger Games, and the Harry Potter series.
You have such a variety of interests, what launches each new interest?
I hate being bored. Ever since I was a kid, I lived at the library. We lived in Mississippi; we were poor, and I didn’t have access to many things. But I read about everything I could think of. In high school, my interests launched – most notably running. My friend said, “I’m doing a marathon,” so I decided to do that. I trained for 12 years (injuries, grad school, medical school, lack of confidence intervened). Finally, I did the Marine Corps Marathon. As with many things, I knew I wanted the thrill of trying, but I accepted that I might not finish. I also watched others – including Marines, running and figured I could do better. I’m a wee bit competitive, and I finished the marathon.
What are some of the other hobbies you have explored?
I always wanted to fly jets. I wanted to get into the Air Force Academy, but I needed glasses, but I still wanted to fly. Eventually I took flying lessons in Laurel, Maryland. I flew a Piper (PA 28), and then I moved to a Cessna 172. I don’t fly anymore.
Why did you stop flying?
It’s tough because if you don’t fly regularly, you get sloppy. I had small children, a growing practice and not enough time to fly regularly.
Additional hobbies or pursuits?
I had a best friend who got me hooked on racing – it’s not weather-related and I enjoy super-charging engines. I started with a Miata 96 – an old, wonderful car – but it had no power. It was a great car to learn how to drive. I loved rebuilding the engine – still love rebuilding them. I rebuilt the Miata so that it went from 100 horsepower to 200 horsepower. The challenge is that manufacturers make cars reliable – and when nonprofessionals get into them, they make them unreliable. My friends who have Mustangs give me grief. They haven’t messed with their cars – so after each 30 minute race, they don’t have to spend two hours working on their cars to get ready for the next race.
Have you had any racing successes?
I race six times a year at Summit Point Raceway. I’m getting better at it. It took me two minutes to go around the first time, then I got to 1.52 minutes, then 1:40, 1:30. Shaving off any time is winning. I’ve won second place twice at the NASA Spring Showdown.
What advice would you offer people who want to be more adventureous?
Don’t let failing get in your way of trying. I am far from being good when it comes to racing, but I have a great time. The perfect plan is the enemy of a good plan. The pursuit of perfection can stall you; it should not.