A writer who’ll be reading his new novel in Iowa City this evening is enjoying a case of dual identity. Tim Farrington’s enjoying a mild success with “The Monk Downstairs,” a romantic novel about a single mother and a man leaving a monastery after twenty years. He says people who interest him as characters are interested in love and “the ultimate meaning of their lives,” whether you think of that as god, the cosmos, nature…not what’s called “spiritual fiction,” he says, but just what life’s about — love and god. Farrington says he grew up Catholic as a “military brat” traveling the world. At about 17 he went out east and got into Zen Buddhism, then joined a Hindu Ashram in California, “chanting and meditating and chopping vegetables and determined to find god.” Farrington says he wrote and threw away several early novels he describes as “really bad.” He planned his next novel to be a big one, but Farrington says he wanted a break of sorts — and some money — before the big multi-year writing project. Farrington says he “sort of panicked” and wrote a novel about a smart, funny woman detective in San Francisco under the pen name of Frank Devlin. Farrington’s enjoying writing detective fiction as “Frank Devlin” and says it’s a change of pace and he intends to write another crime novel as well as his planned big novel in the spiritual fiction vein. Farrington reads from “The Monk Downstairs” tonight at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City.