UCSC Alumna Carolina Ixta debuts first novel

The origins of Carolina Ixta’s novel, “Shut Up, This is Serious” trace back to the classrooms of UCSC

Carolina Ixta (Kresge ’18 literature, Spanish studies, education)

Writing a book is nothing new for Carolina Ixta (Kresge ’18 literature, Spanish studies, education), who wrote a novel every year in high school for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Now, after a comprehensive education across multiple disciplines, Ixta returns to novel authorship with her debut, Shut Up, This is Serious, a story of two Latina teens, and their coming-of-age in East Oakland—a story whose origins track back to Ixta’s time at UC Santa Cruz. 

Ixta recalls the novel’s characters beginning in the form of short stories written in UCSC courses. 

“When I was in my creative writing classes, I kept writing these stories about these two Latina girls in East Oakland,” she said. “I just couldn't get them to work because it wasn't for the short story format.” 

Today, Carolina Ixta credits much of the beginning ideation and creation of Shut Up, This Is Serious to her time at UCSC. Ixta said her hopes to write a young adult novel intersected with her work in creative writing courses and culminated in her debut novel. 

“I knew I wanted to write a young adult novel. And it hit me one day, ‘I have all those stories that I was working on as an undergrad, what if I revamp them?’ The book started when I was at UC Santa Cruz.” 

Ixta, even beyond her time in the creative writing program, credits her workload at UCSC for her return to authorship; she pursued multiple degrees and a minor while still working a part-time job. After years of intensive study, Ixta now looks back on her time with appreciation. 

“I took being a student very seriously when I was at Santa Cruz: I had an intensive major, a double major, a minor, and I did summer sessions every quarter,” Ixta said. “I was very much a student who always went to office hours and always did my reading. And because of that, being a student really lent well to this book because I learned so much.”

Ixta cites her time specifically in exposure to ethnic studies while at UCSC as key to her journey in writing Shut Up, This is Serious, recalling specific courses like Spanish for Spanish Speakers with Ariel A Pérez, as well as her most impactful course, Urban Education with Amanda Lashaw, a course which she still has the reader from. Exposure to this new cultural window at UCSC drove the development of Ixta’s style and ultimately shaped the voice she would use when writing her debut novel. 

“My thematic style was established at Santa Cruz because I was exposed to so many ethnic studies for the first time,” Ixta said. “My voice changed significantly. The voice I established as a writer when I was an undergrad, was very much the voice I put into my debut, I just really refined it.”

Ixta graduated from UCSC in 2018 with three bachelor’s degrees in creative writing, Spanish language, and literature and obtained her master's degree in education at UC Berkeley. She is currently an elementary school teacher in Oakland.

Through her lens as an educator and multi-degree alumna, Ixta encourages current UCSC students to put all they can into their studies and reap the great rewards that come with it. 

“I know it's hard, but college is very much you get what you give. I gained so much from my undergrad experience, but I was giving so much of myself. Maybe I'm biased because I'm a teacher, but that’s exactly what you need to do. You get what you give.”

Ixta has already completed the draft for her next book about a community in Southern California struggling with environmental racism and injustice. The book is slated to be published in 2025.