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Authors and their books

When an Author is writing an ongoing series, do they know where they are going to take the characters before they start writing the next book?
For instance, I just finished the 8th book in an ongoing series and she just killed off one of the recurring characters that I really liked. He appeared in the 4th(?) book and became a mentor and teacher to the reluctant main character (in the 5th)as well as the husband to her best friend (in the 7th book) and now he's dead.
Granted there will come a time when she no longer needs the mentor but did the Author have that in mind for this book or did it come as a surprise to her as well? Was she already looking at a plot for the next book and decided the best way for that story to go forward would be to kill off the mentor, teacher, & friend in this one?
Okay, I'm going downstairs now to crack a few pool balls together. Eight ball in the side pocket!

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