Marshall Highet says she has always been prone to flights of fancy, but these days she’s taken to putting them down on paper in the form of young adult science fiction books. Her first novel, Spare Parts, was recently released and she is nearly finished with the second book in the series. Ideas for a third book are well underway.

Ms. Highet, 37, is a graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. She went to college in Oregon, and earned a graduate degree in English from the Bread Loaf School in Middlebury, Vt. She still lives in Vermont with her two young children, Kian and Brylea, and teaches at the College of St. Joseph and the Community College of Vermont.

Ms. Highet moved to Martha’s Vineyard when she was in sixth grade, and these days she returns often to visit her mother who lives in Edgartown. Ms. Highet said her seventh grade language arts teacher, Doris Dufour, left an impression that lingered.

“I was still kind of a new kid, and she came in and turned the lights off and turned on Aretha Franklin’s Respect,” Ms. Highet said. “It was definitely a Dead Poets Society feeling with her. And then I had a Shakespeare professor in college who really made it come alive.”

Her love of writing and reading came early. Her first science fiction work was completed at age eight and featured a worm from space. Both of her grandmothers were writers. Her paternal grandmother was Helen MacInnes, the popular Scottish writer of espionage books, who died when Ms. Highet was only eight.

Spare Parts is Marshall Highet's first novel. — Alison L. Mead

“My grandmother didn’t smell like cookies, she smelled like Chanel,” Ms. Highet said. “She was a great role model.”

It wasn’t until recently, though, that she discovered her maternal grandmother, who died in a plane crash at the age of 41, was also a writer when she found a treasure trove of poetry, sketches and a novel written by her.

Another inspiration was children’s writer Shel Silverstein, who had a house in the Camp Ground in Oak Bluffs. Ms. Highet met him when she was 17 and they would get together and talk about writing while people-watching.

“I met him at a coffee shop,” she explained. “I heard him whistling and knew it was him. I told him I had just used a line of one of his poems in a paper I wrote for school. We got a Coke and just kind of hung out together. We would look at people and try to guess what they did, what they were afraid of. It was pretty cool. He told me that if you write 55 pages, maybe five of them will be great — good advice.”

These days Ms. Highet sandwiches writing time in between taking care of her children and teaching. She writes in the morning and uses picture boards to develop the story line. Spare Parts is a science fiction book whose audience is likely 11 to 15 year olds. The book lends itself to a curriculum that combines language arts with science. The characters have names like Tesla, Darwin and Mendel who take on characteristics of their namesakes. The story takes place in a biodome and the characters belong to different classes of inhabitants, the top of the social chain being the A-ones with the Underdwellers coming in at the bottom of the system. Two teenagers, one from each category, become friends but this threatens to turn the structure of their biodome society upside down.

Ms. Highet was born with a congenital difference in her arms, one being shorter than the other, and this aspect of her life found its way into the book, she said, like personal aspects that creep into a writer’s work. The Underdwellers are sabotaged by a plague and they wake up with missing limbs. Turning that situation into a positive, they compensate by building powerful super prosthetics that allow them to accomplish feats of daring and super strength.

“I was fascinated with Oscar Pistorius’s running career,” Ms. Highet admitted. “Not the creepy part now, but how he had prosthetic legs and still beat everybody who went against him.”

Because she is a teacher, Ms. Highet likes the idea of her science fiction books lending themselves to a classroom experience. Her latest book, which she is well into writing, includes the periodic table, with characters like Lead Zeppelin and Eddie Mercury.

“There are groups of miners from the periodic table — metals, heavy metals and noble gases,” Ms. Highet said. Her third book involves deadly Japanese giant hornets and the much smaller Japanese honey bees who swarm them, eventually killing the much more potent hornet. Ms. Highet readily admits that she rarely lacks a steady flow of ideas.

“I love to see how far I can string it out and still hold the story together,” she said. “I love writing. Sometimes it’s like walking through wet cement up to your knees then other times it’s like holding onto 10 kite strings and keeping them all up.”

Spare Parts can be purchased at Edgartown Books.