Daisy Johnson is 24 and currently lives in Oxford. She has a degree in English from Lancaster University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford. She travelled around a lot as a child, but it was the landscape of the Fens that haunted her – ‘it’s an unquiet land land that dreams of being the coast’ – and it became the setting for her debut short story collection, Fen (Jonathan Cape). The startling stories are all about women and girls and are full of myth, dark magic and odd metamorphoses. Fittingly, as her filmic Alter Ego, she has chosen Leeloo from The Fifth Element. Eithne Farry
When left to my own devices I imagine my alter ego would be a Luc Besson character: Jacques from The Big Blue who dives without air, tries to have a normal life but cannot, dreams of water rising up the walls; Mathilda, who is only twelve but is already cut from cool: a sharp fringe, round glasses. ‘How old were you when you made your first hit?’ she asks Leon, listens to his reply, says: ‘Beat you!’
There is something though, isn’t there, about The Fifth Element’s Leeloo. Clad in some kind of bondage tape, falling through the roof of Bruce Willis’s taxi, very strong on issues of consent, keen on roast chicken.
As a child I learnt most of my vocabulary from books, which means that, sometimes, when I’m speaking, words come out wrong. This happens to Leeloo too, though it bothers her less. The world is under attack and only she can save the day. She isn’t entirely convinced, though, that she wants to. She says: ‘What’s the use in saving life when you see what you do with it?’ She is sparing with her words, speaks her mind, gathers material to her in a writer-like manner. In the end she is a hopeless romantic. Something, perhaps, about Bruce Willis’s bright orange vest.
If she was brought where we are, I think she would miss the bright colours and over-exaggerated emotions. She would become melancholic, binge on microwave food, get a couple of cats. She would – to remind her of the old days – prey on muggers, litterers, those with late library books. She would, for lack of use, slowly lose the language she’d learnt. I do not think she would miss it much.