Episode 68: Coining the “quozy” and publishing on your own terms with Rob Osler

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The publishing world can be EXTREMELY hard to navigate. Many authors, especially when they’re starting out, feel like they need to fit neatly in a box and meet traditional expectations with their work in order to get published at all.

But not today’s guest.

I am so excited to bring you Rob Osler, a fellow mystery author who you are just going to adore. Rob writes the contemporary comedic series Hayden & Friends Mysteries, featuring a gay and lesbian amateur sleuth duo. He calls these books “comedic romps” and let me tell you – they really are.

Book one, DEVIL’S CHEW TOY, was a 2023 Best Debut Mystery Finalist for the Anthony, Macavity, Agatha, and Lefty Awards and was a 2022 Year’s Best by Crime Reads, BOLO Books, Book Riot, and POPSUGAR. Rob coined the term “quozy” as a way to highlight queer characters in the cozy world.

His new book, THE CASE OF THE MISSING MAID, the first in the new historical series, Harriet Morrow Investigates,” featuring a Chicago-based queer female detective in America s Progressive Era is out in late December.

He’s also a short story writer, and his story MISS DIRECTION is a 2024 finalist for mysteries most prestigious prize, the Edgar Allan Poe Award from Mystery Writers of America. His debut mystery short story, ANALOGUE, won the Mystery Writers of America 2022 Robert L Fish Award for best debut short story by an American Author.

We talked about everything from:

  • Turning the traditional cozy on its head
  • Rob’s wild path to publication – a story I just love because as I’ve said often on the show, there is no one path to publication and often things happen in ways you could just never anticipate
  • How to create secondary characters your reader loves just as much as your protagonist
  • What the future holds for the cozy genre

I had so much fun chatting with Rob – I hope you love our conversation!


  • “I’m really fortunate because the writing community showed a lot of love for my cozy mystery, which is a mashup of cozy queer fiction. It was nominated for the Left Coast Crime, Agatha Anthony and Macavity. So that was a lot of fun, ’cause you get to be on those panels with those other authors that I think so highly of. It’s those constant pinch-me moments.”

  • “I did write a couple novels that are shoved way back in the drawer and that’s honestly where they deserve to be.The first full length novel I wrote, it’s like 85,000 pages and I just started submitting it, and nobody had ever read it. It was just horrifying. If go back now, I can’t even get through the first page.”

  • “I coined the term ‘quozy,’ just like bromance or brunch. And I did that really reflecting on all of my days in corporate strategy. Because one of the ways you can position something is, well, let’s just kind of create a new category or subcategory and it’s a way to talk about it or frame whatever the product is in a way that you control the definition.”

  • “It was almost like the throwing of a flag. We’re throwing cozy flags at you. But it goes back to my stance that is, if I’m to bring Hayden forward as an authentic character, and if I’m gonna make a deal with the reader, I’m gonna give you an authentic Hayden. I’m gonna invite all of him onto the page.”

You can find out more about Rob and his books here, and check out his free short story: https://robosler.com/

And make sure you’re following me on IG @lizmugavero for the latest episodes!