BOOK fans can get their paws on a new children’s novel by a former Rhyl Journal and North Wales Pioneer journalist.

Rhian Waller, 32, who lived in Conwy County for several years, wrote Ship Rats, a story for young readers, after adopting a trio of rescue rats from the RSPCA.

She said: “This is my second book. I wrote my first, which was published a few years ago, while living in Rhos on Sea and working on this newspaper, but that was for grown-ups.

“This is my first stab at a full-length novel for children and this time it is self-published so I can send as much money as possible to a good cause.”

The book raises funds for APOPO, a not-for-profit organisation that trains giant African pouched rats to safely sniff out explosives in minefields.

Ms Waller said: “A lot of people have asked why I chose rats as the heroes of the book as they aren’t very popular animals!

“It’s partly because I ended up adopting three last year and, despite being a bit worried at first, they turned out to be lovely. I think they’re quite misunderstood.

“I also heard about the work APOPO does with real life ‘HeroRATs’. These are a lot bigger than my little pets but they are just as curious and quick to learn.”

The story of Ship Rats is set in the late 1700s and follows three young rats who end up travelling half way around the world on a sailing ship.

They have to contend with sailors, storms and earn their place on board the trader.
At least 50p from the sale of the current book will go to APOPO, which also trains rats to detect and stop the spread of Tuberculosis.

Ship Rats is now available online in print, Kindle and e-publicationat Amazon and Lulu.

Copies are available direct from the author costing £2.99.

To find out more visit or follow Lu the rat on Twitter at @LuSniffy.

For information about APOPO HeroRATS visit