His role in the life and death of Billy the Kid earned Wallace a bit part in the dime novels that burnished the outlaw’s legend, but it was nothing compared to the celebrity his own novel brought him. He had begun the book in his native Indiana, writing in the shade of what would come to be known as the Ben-Hur beech, and would finish it in Santa Fe. At night, after he’d wound down the territory’s affairs, he would retreat to a dismal back room of the adobe governor's palace and bar the doors and windows. Sitting at a rough pine table, he composed the novel’s eighth and final book by the light of a solitary lamp.
I'll always remember it. While accompanying Senator Domenici to the Lee Ranch near San Mateo, NM, I got to sit in the same room where Wallace wrote some of the chapters to Ben-Hur. Quite an experience. There's another story about that visit. It involves a typewriter and whiskey. But that will have to wait until another day.