Don't give up the day job is a well-worn joke, but the truth is not many people choose to walk away from a steady income and take a risk to follow their dreams.Declan Lawn had already built a formidable reputation as an investigative journalist at the BBC, making programmes for Panorama and Spotlight, when he decided to make a life-changing leap of faith.
He had always harboured a dream to be a screenwriter and, after years of believing in his destiny despite knock-backs along the road, he and his writing partner Adam Patterson will see their real-life drama The Salisbury Poisonings on the small screen this weekend.
The primetime three-part series, starring Shameless actress Anne-Marie Duff, will run for three consecutive nights on BBC1 and is proof positive that Declan's career switching gamble paid off.
However, he also candidly admits that it was the death of his father 11 years ago that influenced his decision "to just go for it".
Ironically, his late father Gerry was a Ballymena bank manager, so he would have been risk averse in having to safeguard other people's money.
But the fact that he passed away relatively young - he was 57 - made Declan realise that life was too short to not pursue his real passion, which was screenwriting.
"It was a huge shock," says Declan (43). "It was cancer. It was just a terrible... nothing had ever really happened to my family before, we'd always been very lucky.
"Going back through generations people would have all died when they were elderly so for him to get cancer at 55 or 56 and die at 57 was just a massive, massive shock to all of us.
"You still deal with it. It's still a thing that's always there and all of the good things that happen, like weddings, Christenings and even this drama going on, I was saying this to my wife the other day, you imagine he would have pure loved this, he would have been all over it.
"I think there is a direct line of consequence between my father dying relatively young and me deciding to go and do the job I'd always wanted to do, and also taking a risk.
"(Losing him) kind of jarred me, it made me think that life can be short and you never know when it's going to end, so if you've got a dream or you've got something you've always wanted to do you should try and follow it.
"And I think that was a bit of a turning point for me. I just thought, 'You know, I've always wanted to be a writer, you're not going to be around forever, so just go for it basically.'
"When I look back now, it probably took a few years for it to properly click in. First, there was the grief stage but then once you start thinking about it, the upshot of it all was that I just thought, 'Well, life might be short, it could be short, and it's worth taking a risk now and again' and I suppose that sustained me through seven years of many, many, many ups and downs in the world of screenwriting."
But that was not the only factor that helped father-of-four Declan, who now lives in Belfast, pursue his dream. His wife Breige supported him in making the bold move to quit his job and follow his heart - as well as supporting their family financially with her job working in property.
"The thing is, I just wouldn't have been able to do it without my wife," says Declan. "Without her support and without her backing and without knowing - because she does have a steady job - we'd be able to pay the bills, there's no way, absolutely no way, I could have taken the risk. I just couldn't have done it.
"And it was, for a couple of years, precarious. Because the thing about television drama is, you can have three or four projects in development and none of them get commissioned so they end instantly in an afternoon.
"It's very precarious and if Breige hadn't have stood behind me and said 'Go for it, give it a shot' there's just no way I could have done it, it would have been impossible.
"It was hard, there were a few dodgy moments, but I'm really glad it has paid off.
"And then the other thing that sustained me as well as Breige was working with a partner, Adam Patterson.
"Because there was two of us, every time we had a disappointment, one of us can help get the other one back on the horse.
"When you're working closely with someone like that, you can share all those challenges and hurdles."
The Salisbury Poisonings tells the story of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK's intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, who were poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent in March 2018.
Miraculously, after both being in a critical condition, they recovered, but not so fortunate was the innocent victim of a similar poisoning incident three months later which claimed the life of Dawn Sturgess in nearby Amesbury.
A man found a perfume bottle and gave it to her and she sprayed it on her wrist, both of them unaware that it contained the deadly nerve agent.
Declan says: "The first thing to say should be that everybody who's featured in it, all of the main families and characters, they've all seen it now, they've all seen the entire series and they're all very happy with it, nobody has any issues and they're all glad that they took part.
"But in the earliest days, of course, there was a big question for them and for us as to whether it was too soon to tell the story. That was our biggest ethical dilemma.
"And the more time we spent with them, the more comfortable they became because they could see we just wanted to truthfully tell their stories and they realised that they had stories that they themselves wanted to tell.
"And even now, I would say that when the drama comes out there will be a few people in Salisbury who still think it's too soon, even though the main protagonists are all part of it.
"But the reason we wanted to tell it is, it's a really remarkable story of how a community comes together to support each other during this huge trauma that affects all of them.
"And so, we thought, on balance, that is a story that should be told and it's worth telling it soon after the events, but everyone featured in the drama, they've all seen it, as in the families and the victims, and they're all happy with it."
Declan and Adam first travelled to Salisbury to research the story in September 2018, only three months after Dawn Sturgess was buried.
"It was very soon and that is probably unusual in the world of TV drama, but it's not unusual in the world of journalism or documentary, because I spent a decade and a half as a journalist speaking to people who had gone through very recent trauma because they were the victims of terrorist attacks or the victims of crime.
"And I think if you do it for long enough you learn and you get a sense of how resilient and how robust people are in terms of being in a place where they're able to tell their story.
"So we came to the conclusion that in terms of the people we're covering, that they were actually in a place where they were strong enough to tell that story and that's where the journalistic background came in because it was soon after and we had to tread very carefully.
"We had to be extremely respectful and I would say for the first several months really, if any of those main people had turned around and said, 'Right, forget it, I don't want to do it, I'm not ready' then we would actually have stopped and I don't think we would have done it."
Declan and Adam - who is from Dromore, Co Down - met in 2009 while making a Panorama film in London. They immediately clicked and both shared an ambition to make dramas telling real-life stories.
He says that his oldest children - Annie (14) and Mary (12) - will get to see dad's latest work, but not their younger brothers Patrick (10) and Liam (4).
"I reckon the two older girls should be able to watch the series; it's tough viewing in some ways but I think they're probably old enough to watch it. But I'll keep the younger ones away from it for a year or two."
And as for that decision to give up the day job?
Well, Declan said that as well as his wife there is one other special person in his life who is glad to see it has worked out - his mum Mary, who lives in Cloughmills.
He adds: "She is delighted. My mum, like a lot of other people in my life, were thinking, 'What is Declan doing leaving the BBC?'
"And I think that sentiment was probably shared by quite a few people around me, going, 'Why would you walk away from a steady job and an interesting job?'
"When I said I was making a drama series I don't think she really understood what I was up to until about two weeks ago, just as lockdown eased and you were allowed to go and visit your parents in their back garden. I went up and sat in her back garden and showed her on my phone the trailer for the show. And then she was looking at me going, 'Ah right, now I get what you've been up to for the last two years.'"
The Salisbury Poisonings is on BBC1, from Sunday to Tuesday, at 9pm each evening. All episodes are available on iPlayer from Sunday